SOCIAL Affairs minister Mary Hanafin has claimed plans to cut vital financial support to 87,840 single parent families would be in the best interest of Ireland’s economic future.
Ms Hanafin is proposing that any lone parent family with a teenage child will be barred from accessing the state aid.
Under the current scheme, a lone-parent family receives a means-tested payment each year until their child reaches 18, or until the age of 22 if they are in full-time education.
There are currently 189,240 single-parent families in the country, 87,840 of whom obtain the special allowance.
However, due to current financial difficulties, Ms Hanafin has recommended the scheme be restricted to children under the age of 13 – a move she insisted was in the best interest of both the economy and the families involved.
“The duration of the payment is not in the best interest of the recipient, their children or society,” the senior cabinet member claimed.
“I’m not suggesting teenagers don’t need support as well, but at least they’re in school until 4pm, there’s much better opportunities for the mother to get employment,” she added.
While Ms Hanafin has argued shortening the period of payment would bring Ireland into line with other countries such as Britain, a final decision will ultimately be made by the Cabinet.
A spokesperson for the minister said the measure is not expected to be implemented for a number of years, however, Frances Byrne of OPEN, which represents one-parent families, said it could have dire implications for families dependent on the funds.
“The issue is whether the system is ready and clearly the system isn’t ready at the moment,” she said.
Some 51% of single mothers say the father has never made any financial contribution towards their child’s upbringing, according to OPEN research.
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