Supporting The Family

 

Sir, - Last week a constituent contacted me seeking advice. His query was a fairly common one. He was 23 years old. Some years ago when they were teenagers, he and his girlfriend had had a baby. They had lived apart but kept in regular contact. They had grown up, he had got a job and they had decided to set up home together with their child. They had even got loan approval from Dublin Corporation to buy their own home. His query concerned the effect that this decision to live as a family unit would have on their income.

After doing the sums on tax and social welfare, I had to inform him that they stood to lose approximately £87 a week. As he is earning less than the average industrial wage, this represents a huge drop in income.

Recently the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs, Dermot Ahern, in announcing the annual grants to marriage and child counselling groups said: "Putting in place the supports to strengthen family relationships is a primary goal for this Government."

A system which financially penalises parents and discourages parental responsibility does not strengthen family relationships. Could I suggest that Mr Ahern examines the policies of his own Department and those of Mr McCreevy's if the Government is really serious about supporting families? - Yours, etc., Cllr Roisin Shortall TD, Labour Party Spokesperson for Health and Children,

Iveragh Road, Dublin 9.