Anger over lone parent payment cuts

Tánaiste Joan Burton has been forced to make quality childcare a priority for her party at the general election, as she scrambled to contain the fallout from cuts to lone parent payments this week.

Anger over lone parent payment cuts

Ms Burton said yesterday she was setting up an expert group, to include Labour TDs, to come up with a childcare package ahead of the election. It will examine paid parental leave, extending the free pre-school year and measures to make childcare more affordable.

Speaking to party members in Limerick last night, she said: “I want to assure you that the Labour Party has the political will and we will be looking for support from the parents of Ireland at the next election to carry through the measures that are needed.”

The announcement came after Ms Burton, earlier in the Dáil faced accusations of introducing Thatcherite cuts to lone parent payments with up to 10,000 single parents facing the loss of their allowances yesterday.

Single mothers spoke of the hardship they would now face, with some facing reductions of up to €87 a week.

The Government want to introduce changes to incentivise single parents to work and say those affected will be entitled to other state payments, such as the family income supplement.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the cuts were a “cruel and unjust decision”. She said the actions of Ms Burton, as social protection minister, were “Thatcherite”.

Ms Burton said she encouraged opposition TDs to go and look at creche facilities which had improved in recent years. The changes, introduced yesterday to lone parent allowance, will require single parents in receipt of social welfare to seek employment or training when their youngest child reaches seven years of age.

However, lone parents say there are no extra hours for them and no affordable childcare.

Independent senator Gerard Craughwell, who met a group of single parents yesterday, described it as a “black day”.

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