SPARK campaign urges lone parents to vote only for parties or candidates that will work best for their families

spark_outside_dailSingle parent campaign SPARK today launched the results of their survey and questionnaire to every candidate and party running for election.

In the Dublin Mid-West constituency, the only two candidates committed to a FULL REVERSAL of Joan Burton’s Budget 2012 cuts are Gino Kenny PBP and Lorraine Hennessy WP.

Questions arise as to just how serious the other parties are at eradicating child poverty in Ireland. The most recent data on poverty in Ireland (EU SILC Report 2014) is a grim read for lone parent families. For the general population, the deprivation rate stands at 29%. This is going without two or more basic needs such as warm clothing. For one parent families, this almost doubles to 58%. The consistent poverty rate of the general population is 8%; for one parent families it is a shameful 22%.

Minister Joan Burton’s cuts to lone parents were done without any equality proofing or analysis of the impact. What we do know is that according to the national organisation One Family, Burton’s claim to get lone parents working was false. Since the introduction of these cuts, parents in receipt of One Parent Family Allowance (OPFA) in some form of employment fell from 60% to 36%. The policy was a failure.

In Dublin Mid-West the results are as follows: both Fine Gael and Labour have no plans to reverse the cuts. Fianna Fail will change the OPFA cut off from age 7 to age 14. Both Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats will change the age limit to 12 years old. The income disregard of €146.50 was slashed by Minster Burton to €90 yet Sinn Fein are only committed to restoring it to €120 and Social Democrats will increase it to €147.50 but will decrease it if there is affordable childcare.

To put these figures into context, none of the opposition parties are committed to restoring OPFA. Actually what is being proposed by them all will result in lone parent families being worse off than they were 20 years ago! In 1997, a lone parent could claim until the child was 18 or 22 in full time education. The income disregard of €146.50 (115 punt) had never increased since 1997 until it was cut in 2012.

People Before Profit Dublin Mid-West election candidate Cllr Gino Kenny says “I feel lone parent families are being let down again. Not only by the outgoing Government but now by many of the main parties running for election. How can all of these parties justify proposals that will mean lone parent families are worse off than they were 20 years ago? The poverty levels for one parent families is shocking and thousands of children are behind these statistics. I am disappointed for lone parents particularly as this country has let them down for decades with our history of Magdalene laundries right up to 2016. There is much talk of a republic of equals to celebrate 100 years on from 1916. Are we to wait another 100 years before poverty is not inflicted on children and women because of their marital or relationship status? The only advice I would give lone parents is to let them know you are voting and your families do count. Well done to SPARK for this detailed survey and informing other lone parent families.”