Workers Party pledges full support to SPARK campaign

SPARK - Single Parents Acting for the Rights of Our Kids - is a new campaign group established to fight the draconian measures in the recent FG/Labour budget on lone parents and their children. The affects of the budget on the lives of lone parents and their children are set out below.

On Saturday 18th February SPARK held a very successful march and rally in Dublin city centre.


Mary Diskin, Workers Party National Executive member states: “The campaign by SPARK is one of the most vital campaigns taking place at the present time. If the budget proposals come into effect, and if the cutbacks promised in the next three budgets are allowed to be implemented, then the position of single parents and their children returns to the Victorian era.


“We are spending billions each year paying for the greed of the bankers and the speculators. We have to repay up to €50 billion in Anglo promissory notes. The weakest and most vulnerable in society are being sacrificed to keep the rich in their riches and to keep international banks afloat. As a society we cannot allow that to happen. We cannot allow the gains of 40 years to be wiped away at the whims of the troika or the wealthy elite in this country. 

“Once again the Workers Party pledges our full support to SPARK and to its constituent organisations (One Family, OPEN, and Treoir) in their fight for justice and equality”.




1. Reduction in income disregard from €146.50 to €130 with plans to lower this to €60 by 2016. No acknowledgment of childcare costs involved in a single parent working. 

2. Reduction in entitlement age (for new one parent families)to age 12  of youngest child from April 2012 and to 7 from 2014. Phasing arrangements for existing recipients are being considered.   No allowance made for childcare costs of school-age children. If parents can't fund full-time childcare costs, they are confined to remain  solely on welfare with no option to find part-time, child- friendly  jobs. 

3. CE schemes are now effectively closed to lone parents, hindering training to those trying to get back to work. The withdrawal of the double payment means that single parents will have to fund childcare and travel expenses from €20 per week. They will be forced to remain in the home while children are under 7 and then forced to  compete in an increasingly competitive job market. 

4. University contributions were increased and grants cut, affecting both lone parents currently in 3rd level and those wishing  to improve their prospects through education, as well as lone parents'  ability to pay for their children's 3rd level education. 

5. The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance has been reduced by €50 for primary school and €55 for secondary school children. This will have a greater impact on one-parent families than any other group in Ireland. 

6. School transport contributions have increased which means additional cost for lone parents where school transport is available. 

7. The new Household Charge applies to home-owning lone parents  irrespective of whether relying on a primary welfare benefit (affects  those mortgaged but not in receipt of mortgage supplement - many lone  parents aren't receiving this supplement or aren't eligible). 

8. The Fuel Allowance has been reduced by 6 weeks pa, resulting in a €120pa reduction. 

9. Childcare: subvention rates to community crèches have been cut by 5%, while affordable childcare and afterschool provision is lacking, childcare costs in Ireland are among the highest in Europe. 
Only private and thus expensive childcare seems to be available for secondary school children. 

10. A dependent wife is entitled to €124pw - a dependent child only receives €29.80pw. We question the reasoning behind this considering growing children have a variety of needs but cannot contribute financially. 

11. Similarly, a 25-year-old living at home on JSA receives €188pw whereas a dependent child only receives €29.80pw. 

12. The JobsBridge programme is not open to lone parents. The same is true for the new access courses as no childcare allowances are  provided and lone parents are discouraged from participating. 

13. Single parents must now pay €25 a week towards childcare when  participating in FÁS or similar courses. 

14. The €6 a week increase in rent contributions is a thinly veiled cut to the base rate of social welfare despite repeated promises that  this would not happen at a time when the cost of living is increasing. 
This measure will cause serious hardship to single parents and their  children. 

15. Maximum rent levels at which rent supplement can be claimed have  been cut unevenly and often far to drastically around the county (e.g. a family with 2 children is cut by €230pm in Wicklow and €0 in Louth). 
Single parents are particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless if they cannot renegotiate rent and supplement is withdrawn. 

16. The temporary payment of half of the rate of One-Parent Family Payment where the recipient's earnings exceed €425 per week will be discontinued. Existing recipients of the temporary payment will not be affected. 

17. Currently people getting One-Parent Family Payment can get half-rate Jobseeker’s Benefit, Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement if they satisfy the qualifying conditions. These half-rate payments will cease for applicants for Jobseeker’s Benefit, Illness Benefit and Incapacity Supplement. 

18. For new and existing claimants, income from employment as a home help funded by the HSE will be assessed in means tests for social assistance schemes including the One Parent Family Payment, from 1 
January 2012. 

19. If a person is on a Community Employment Scheme and One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife’s Allowance or Benefit or a widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner's pension, payment of the 2nd 
qualified child increases will cease for both new and existing recipients from 16 January 2012. In other words anyone with a child on the CE Scheme will be down an average €60 per week from 16th January. 

20. If you are widowed and you don't have enough contributions you have to go on OPFP if your youngest is under 7, but are only allowed only 2yrs on OPFP if your youngest is over 7.


21. If you are employed part time and are in receipt of a partial payment of OPF payment you are not allowed to claim illness benefit while you are out sick effectively meaning you loose half your income immediately.

Peace, Work, Democracy and Class Politics