Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has urged the Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty, to wake up to the reality faced by many lone parents who are at work but living in poverty.

The Sinn Féin TD’s comments come after the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) published a report which found that poverty doubled among working lone parents between 2012 and 2017.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“This government has consistently failed lone parents and their children, whether that’s through income support, child maintenance, childcare costs, or housing.

“This SVP report highlights this failure. It details that there were more working lone parents in 2017 living in poverty than there was in the previous five years.

“The SVP report also finds that living standards for lone parents in Ireland are among the worst in Europe. Our percentage of working lone parents, at 58 per cent, is the lowest in the euro zone. Childcare costs were identified by 60 per cent of lone parents surveyed as a disincentive to entering the workforce, while 45 per cent regarded housing costs as a heavy burden.

“Ireland currently has the second highest rates of income poverty, persistent poverty, and severe deprivation among the fifteen EU countries surveyed.

“One of the more proactive recommendations included in the SVP report is to benchmark social welfare, such as the Jobseekers Transition Payment and Working Family Payment, to the cost of a Minimum Standard of Living to ensure adequate income.

“Sinn Féin introduced legislation to this effect last year, and I again call on the Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty to consider this approach to help lift lone parent families out of poverty.”

Crowe continued:

“There are also a number of short-term recommendations in this report which could be taken immediately by Minister Doherty such as extending the cut off age for the Jobseekers Transition Payment until the youngest child is 18 to assist lone parents in ensuring that they are actually better off at work.

“Sinn Féin has also brought forward proposals for a Child Maintenance Service, similar to what is already in place in the North.

“Research from Britain has shown that receiving child maintenance plays a significant role in reducing poverty. Unfortunately, Minister Doherty has once again failed to consider the possibility of doing this in order to support lone parents and their children.

“The reality is that too many lone parent families are living in poverty and what is most alarming is that these are lone parents who are currently at work.

“There are positive and proactive solutions for assisting lone parents and their children in this report, but it needs political will and commitment, and that doesn’t look like happening anytime soon under this government.”