lone Parents are being forced out of Community Employment schemes and back into the home, because of a government cut to their payments.
In the past year, 18 single parents in Laois left Community Employment (FÁS) schemes, in what Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming says is a singled out attack by the Minister for Social Protection.
A year ago, a rule was changed that allowed single parents to keep their One Parent Family Payment while they worked in a paid CE Scheme.
“Lone parents were effectively double paid, they had got the the CE payment as well as their One Parent Family Payment, but there was a reason for that. By definition, lone parents have a child, and no-one living with them to mind that child, so this way they could put the child in a creche. That has been cut out,” said Dep Fleming.
Nationwide 44 per cent of lone parents left CE schemes since the removal of the incentive last year. In Laois, just 30 single parents remain working in schemes. In Offaly the figures are even lower, just 20 out of 48 lone parents remain working working in CE schemes.
“This number will continue to fall. It is clear that Minister Joan Burton has singled out lone parents for a special attack to push them off community employment. This is harmful to the people concerned and damaging to the community employment which they were involved in” said Dep Fleming.
He says many community childcare programmes in Laois were staffed by single parents.
“They had an expertise in this area and they are now having difficulty continuing to operate. Many were also involved in other community employment and it is getting more difficult for people to fill these posts because of the removal of the incentive for single parents to go on these schemes,” he says.
In answer to his Dáil question to Minister Burton, Dep Fleming was supplied with the nationwide figures showing the drastic drop, and a written statement saying CE places had been increased.
“As of January 21 2013, there are 2,591 persons listed under the lone parent category on Community Employment (CE). At December 31, 2011, there were 4,650 persons listed under the lone parent category. The overall number of places available under CE has been increased by 2,000 to 25,300 (including supervisors) in 2013 with a budget of circa €352m. The Department is committed to reforming CE to ensure value for money, progression of the job seeker and support for community services,” Minister Burton’s statement said.