Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has said that Minister Varadkar’s long awaited response on lone parents and educational supports tells us nothing new. This issue was brought to national attention by Erica Fleming, a homeless lone parent who has been refused the Back to Education Allowance after securing a place in Trinity College.
Teachta Brady said:
“Minister Varadkar has released a very cold response to an issue that has meant a lone parent has been denied a place at college and an opportunity to be educated in the hope for a career and a better life.
“The statement is useless, it completely misses the point. It details the available payments that are there and expresses how well the Department of Social Protection is providing for lone parents. The Minister does not seem to share the concerns that have been highlighted and his not bothered attitude is deplorable.
“The Minister doesn’t even bother to address the problem which lies within the eligibility criteria for the payment. He doesn’t explore the changes he could quite easily make to better the situation for lone parents and to improve their access to education.
“This response is extremely disappointing. It is another blow for lone parents who have suffered consistently under the austerity agenda of Fine Gael and the Labour Party.
“The Government’s reasoning for taking away the One Parent Family Payment for those with children over the age of seven was to move lone parents into employment or into education. As it turns out, under the Government initiative, lone parents are better off being unemployed. If they are they can receive the Back to Education Allowance. If they aren’t and instead, work part-time receiving Family Income Supplement they are denied an education.
“The Government have failed lone parents time and time again. They took away their One Parent Family Payment with the promise of a Scandinavian style childcare system that we haven’t heard a word about since. They talk about incentivising lone parents into work that in many cases is part-time and cannot cover childcare costs. And now they deny lone parents an opportunity to educate themselves because they do not meet their criteria to be educated.
“Minister Varadkar’s response on this matter is simply not good enough. I call on him to re-consider his position on this matter immediately.”