The Mandate Trade Union has today launched its exciting and innovative Fair Shop campaign to encourage the country’s 800,000 trade unionists and consumers in general to shop with retailers that respect their workers. OPEN’s 7 is too young campaign is also featured in this issue.
Dublin, 5 December 2012 – Start Strong, OPEN, Barnardos and the National Women’s Council of Ireland have rejected moves by the departments of Social Protection and Children and Youth Affairs to pilot specific after-school care arrangements for the children of low income workers. The organisations said that the move fell far short of a strategic approach to the development of comprehensive childcare for all children aged 0-12 years in Ireland and created a two tier system that would segregate children based on their family incomes.
The organisations said that the moves are a far cry from calls made by the Minister for Social Protection in April for a bankable, credible commitment to a system of Scandinavian style childcare and are a short term measure that will delay real and meaningful progress towards universal, subsidised quality services for children.
The organisations are seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Burton and Minister Fitzgerald to voice their concerns about her failure to fulfil the commitments she made in the Dail on 18th April 2012.
Further information call:
Catherine Joyce, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos 086 3432542
Frances Byrne, CEO OPEN – 086 8143297
Orla O’Connor, Director of National Women’s Council of Ireland – 087 6483516
Toby Wolfe, Acting Director of Start Strong – 086 8159546
One-parent families need just three things from today’s Budget announcement:
1. As promised by Minister Joan Burton on April 18th in the Dáil, no further changes to eligibility for the One-parent Family Payment unless Scandinavian childcare is guaranteed to be in place for all families by 2014. The Minister committed to ending the changes to the Payment, unless she was able to announce bankable, creditable plan TODAY. If the Minister fails to act, then from January, new lone parents who go on to the Payment, will only receive it until their youngest child is 10 years old. If their youngest has already turned 10, they will be put on a Jobseekers payment and have to be available for full-time work outside the home. This is due to be reduced to just 7 years in 2014 for new applicants; and for everyone by 2015.
2. No more reductions to the Earnings Disregard of the One-parent Family Payment. This allows lone parents to work and keep some social welfare for childcare costs. It was reduced from €146.50 per week to €130 this year. Further cuts to this will hurt working lone parents and discourage unemployed lone parents from going out to work.
3. No reduction to the monthly rate of Child Benefit, as this impacts on the poorest families most. Our families use this vital payment to pay big household costs like childcare or monthly utility bills. It has already been reduced since 2009 from €166 to €140 for the first two children. Our government has choices. Concerns about wealthy families getting this payment can be addressed by increasing taxes on high earners. Childhood is short and should be cherished.
Lone parents and our children have paid heavily already in Budgets 2011 and 2012 for a crisis which we didn’t cause. This government has promised that Budget 2013 will be fair. These three items will be how we assess this for our families.
Follow our reactions & analysis today on Twitter: @OPEN_Ireland where we will be using #Budget13
Watch our CEO on last night’s Primetime HERE (from 22 minutes)
Watch Frances Byrne on TV3′s IrelandAM
OPEN has been aware of long delays for lone parents in getting Family Income Supplement (FIS). Now, official figures, which Denis Naughten, T.D. has been given on September 12, 2012, show that new applicants have to wait 16 weeks. So, someone on low pay who applies now will not receive their FIS payment until after Christmas.
FIS must also be re-applied for every year by low income families, even in situations where their wages have remained at exactly the same level. Lone parents, who submitted their renewal applications in May 2012, were told they would have to wait 20 weeks. This forces parents to get into debt at critical times such as the back to school period and at Christmas.
It’s very unfair that lone parents and others have to wait long periods for an essential payment, which is only given to the poorest working families.
One of the recommendations we will make as part of OPEN’s Budget 2013 submission is that families who are eligible for FIS should not have to re-apply every year, if their circumstances don’t change. Our contention is that if those who are already on FIS were not forced to re-apply every year, there would not be huge delays for new applicants; a win-win for all of those on low incomes and for the Department of Social Protection.
You can see some of the media coverage here
More on the Family Income Supplement here;
September 4, 2012
OPEN, the national network of one-parent families, is calling on the government to immediately reverse the cuts to vital HSE services, which were announced late last week.
Speaking ahead of a protest of people with disabilities at noon outside Government Buildings, OPEN’s CEO, Frances Byrne said that “Members of our families who have disabilities rely heavily on Home Help & PA supports from the HSE to live a life with basic dignity. These often form part of a broader package of care and supports which allow adults & children to participate in family activities, education and work; to dismantle even a small piece of such support means that normal life cannot continue”.
“The proposed cuts will also affect those who work as Home Helps/Personal Assistants and drive them needlessly onto the Dole; in other words, these deeply unfair and unjust cuts will save in one area, while increasing costs in another, which is a false economy”, continued Ms. Byrne, “This is a no-win situation for the government and they must make the correct moral, social & economic decision and overturn the proposed cuts immediately”.
Have a look at this great VIDEO of lone parent, Jacqueline Kelleher, one of our Grow Your Own Future graduates, who manages The Heritage Garden. Her plan is to grow enough to feed 12 families. Go Jacqueline!
Do you believe Ireland will have Scandanavian childcare in place by 2014? Click onto our Facebook page to enter our current poll.
OPEN is holding a two-day ‘Training for Trainers’ workshop in our training centre in Dublinon Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th July 2012.
The workshop will equip trainers, facilitators and other support professionals to deliver the Shaping YOUR Future programme, a FETAC Level 4 minor award in Career Planning and Employment Skills, now in its second year of EU Equality for Women Measure (EWM) funding.
While Shaping YOUR Future was developed by OPEN as a ‘Next Steps’ programme for lone mothers, the principles, methods and many of the materials are applicable to a wide range of groups and settings.
The workshop will explore programme content, group work methodology, assessment and evaluation, with plenty of time for interactive work and discussion. All participants will receive a copy of the Shaping YOUR Future Training / Learning Manual.
Participation in the workshop is free of charge, but places must be booked in advance. To book a place, please contact:
Ailbhe Smyth in OPEN on Tel (01) 814 8860