Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.42 14 Sep 2021


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A group claims the State is failing single parents 'in every area', as new data shows lone parents and their children account for 53% of all homeless families.

The ESRI research says single parents and their children are much more likely to experience poor housing than other household types.

The report also highlights the disadvantages experienced by young people, migrants, people with disabilities, Travellers and others in the Irish housing system.

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Free childcare, family friendly working hours, a robust child maintenance system and affordable rents are among the actions that need to be taken to support lone parents.

That is according to single parents' group SPARK - Single Parents Acting For Rights of Kids.

Its founder Louise Bayliss told Newstalk Breakfast changes to childcare benefits have disadvantaged many lone parents.

"It's what all the research has been showing year-on-year, so it's shocking figures but not surprising.

"There has been loads of research, both nationally and internationally, that shows what needs to happen.

"We need affordable, quality childcare, we need family friendly working hours, well paid jobs with guaranteed hours and we need a robust maintenance system and affordable rents.

"If you look at those four areas, we're failing in every one of those".

She says the problem with the maintenance system, which sees parents mandated to pay child support, is that orders are not enforced.

"The only way to get maintenance is to go to the courts, the courts issue an order but they don't enforce the order."

And she says the system is way out of date in terms of rent.

"We have housing issues, obviously hugely, we're out of control at the moment.

"But in addition to that, something even as simple as the way social welfare assess maintenances, there is a housing disregard.

"If you're paying your own rent or your own mortgage, there's a housing disregard comes off your child maintenance.

"That income disregard is €95.23 per week; that was set at IR£75 in 1997 - we're now 25 years on - that hasn't changed.

"Yet that report that we're quoting today shows rent has gone up by 40% from 2016 to 2021... and yet the income disregard is set at 1997 levels.

"So again we don't have a playing field that's fair on even how maintenance is assessed".

Ireland failing lone parents 'in every area', group says

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Main image: Louise Bayliss pictured speaking to the media outside Leinster House in January 2012. Picture by: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

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Childcare Children ESRI Homeless Homeless Families Lone Parents Louise Bayliss Newstalk Breakfast Single Parents Single Parents Acting For Rights Of Kids Spark

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