Education best way for lone parents to reduce risk of poverty, says Burton


PROVIDING EDUCATION or training for lone parents was the best way to reduce the high risk of poverty for their children, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said.

“The highest risk lone parent is one who has left education and stayed exclusively as a lone parent over a long period of time,” she added. Ms Burton said that while social welfare was a support, it was a hand-up rather than a handout.

“If we are to ensure that pensioners and everyone else who contributes to social welfare gets a decent level of support when they require it, then we must as a country ensure that all our people of working age, regardless of their relationship status, are encouraged, empowered and enabled to work from the time they finish their education until their retirement,” she added. “Otherwise, we will not have enough people in work to support the type of social welfare system that as a country we are correct to aspire to.”

Ms Burton was speaking during the resumed debate on the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill, which passed all stages.

Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit, Dún Laoghaire) said the Bill’s provisions relating to lone parents would come into force over the next several years until payments were withdrawn when their children reached the age of seven years.

He said that while the Minister was trying to justify the measure as labour activation, it would have the opposite effect.

He said that as of next week lone parents with children aged 12 or 13 years would be disadvantaged.