Taoiseach defends cut to lone-parent allowance

Enda Kenny says Government cannot allow families to remain ’locked into joblessness’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said about 32,000 people would ‘transition’ out of the lone-parent payment. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said about 32,000 people would ‘transition’ out of the lone-parent payment. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Government has no intention of reversing the planned cut to the lone-parent allowance next month, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted.

Despite significant investment – more than €1 billion annually from 2009 to 2012 – it “has not been successful in preventing lone parents from being significantly more at risk of consistent poverty compared to the population as a whole”, Mr Kenny told the Dáil.

With the changes, parents of children aged seven and older will no longer be entitled to the one-parent family payment, from July 2nd.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed the “brutal” cuts “will plunge thousands more children in to consistent poverty, on top of all the other cuts that have affected lone-parent families”.

He said some families would lose up to €140 a week. In other cases, such as a lone parent working 20 hours a week on minimum wage, the loss would be €108 a week.

However, Mr Kenny said the Government could not allow thousands of families to continue to be locked into joblessness.

Transition

About 32,000 people would “transition” out of the payment, but he insisted that 20,000 would either experience no change or would gain after the change.

The gain for individuals will be in the range of €10 to €150 a week, depending on the level of earnings and the number of children in a family, he said.

The Taoiseach said the “remaining 10,000 who are in employment will, based on their current circumstances, have an incentive to increase the number of hours they have”.

Of the 10,000, about 6,000 lone parents would be incentivised to increase the number of hours they worked to 19, “in order to claim family income supplement and the back-to-work family dividend”.

Mr Martin accused the Taoiseach of being out of touch “and completely detached from the reality on the ground”.

He said Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton had broken her promise because she pledged only to introduce such cuts if there was a Scandinavian-model of childcare in Ireland.

When asked about this recently, he added, Ms Burton would only say it was the responsibility of the Department of Children.