Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has called on the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar to reverse changes made by his predecessor Joan Burton TD that deny lone parents access to education.
Teachta Brady said:
“The barriers created for lone parents by Fine Gael and Labour has been highlighted this weekend by Erica Fleming, a homeless lone parent who has been refused the Back to Education Allowance after securing a place in Trinity College.
“Last year, those in receipt of One-Parent Family Allowance with children over the age of seven lost the payment. Erica Fleming was just one of these people and was transferred to Family Income Supplement. Under the One-Parent Family Allowance Erica would have been entitled to Back to Education Allowance under Family Income Supplement she is not.
“As a part-time worker receiving Family Income Supplement lone parents do not qualify for the Back to Education Allowance. In fact they need to be unemployed for 234 days to receive the allowance.
“As a direct consequence of changes made to lone parents last year Erica Fleming is being denied the opportunity to be educated because of the social welfare payment she receives. Her social welfare payment is preventing her from accessing education and this must be rectified immediately.
“The Back to Education Allowance should do just that, it should be an incentive to return to education instead, welfare policies for lone parents are barriers to employment and to education.
“It makes no sense whatsoever that access to education is only available to lone parents who lost their One Parent Family Payment if they are unemployed for 234 days.
“Both my office and Deputy Louise O’Reilly’s office are working on this matter. We have contacted Minister Varadkar directly this morning and we await his reply.”