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bnOn December 8th Mick took the opportunity to address the Dáil at the second stage of the Social Welfare Bill 2011. In his speech Mick  cites figures from the One Family Group who represent single parent families. The group's figures show that 65% of the country's poorest children live in one parent families and Budget 2012 has implemented further cutbacks to those families. Mick mentions a constituent who is directly hit by these measures; fortunately after some consultation with the Minister, this particular incident has been resolved. However there are many more families who won't receive such good news throughout 2012. You can watch his speech in full here.

Mick Wallace: Deputy Boyd Barrett will also speak at the end for two minutes. The most striking aspect of the budget is its obvious lack of fairness. There is not much of an attempt to tackle the growing levels of inequality in society, nor is there a serious attempt to protect those who need the Government’s help the most. I do not want to get into a big debate on how to raise the money we need, but I agree with the suggestion of a 55% tax band on earnings of more than €100,000, which would accrue €750 million for the State. Given some of the measures that have been introduced, it would alleviate some of the hardships being suffered by vulnerable people. The Credit Suisse report has been much discussed in the House this week. It showed that 5% of our population owns 46% of the wealth, with a net value of €219 billion. I am in favour of a one-off solidarity tax on that wealth. Just 1% would bring in more than €2 billion and 5% would bring in more than €10 billion. Things are not easy and we are in a difficult position, but the better off need to carry a greater burden if we are to have a fairer society. Unfortunately, this is not being done. I do not have time to challenge all of the Bill’s many aspects. The One Family group approached me today to highlight a few issues. Some 65% of the poorest children live in one-parent families. A person in a one-parent family is four times more likely to live in consistent poverty than a person in another family. In 2010, half of one-parent families went without essentials such as adequate home heating, substantial meals, clothing and footwear because they were unable to afford them. Lone parents were the most negatively affected by the previous budget, losing almost 5% of their annual incomes, compared with the 1.3% decrease endured by high-income married couples. Lone parents and their children were poor under the Celtic tiger and remain so. According to the ESRI’s “Persistent at Risk of Poverty in Ireland 2011” and “Growing Up in Ireland 2011” publications, one-parent families tend to achieve lower educational levels. Budget 2012’s immediate financial impact on the poorest families in Ireland include an additional €6 per week to be paid towards rent supplement, a loss of €120 per year towards fuel costs, a loss of €228 per year for one-parent families with three children and €432 for those with four children, a significant loss of €50 per primary school age child and €55 per secondary school age child in back to school clothing and footwear allowance cuts, an increase in VAT, fuel costs, school transport costs as well as school capitation grants and the loss of €29.80 per child per week due to the cut in the two qualified child increases where the parent is on a community employment, CE, scheme and one-parent family payment. New CE scheme applicants will no longer be able to retain the one-parent family payment and their salaries from CE schemes. This morning I received a telephone call from a distressed woman from Ballycullane, County Wexford. Ms Nicola Purcell has two children and is in receipt of one-parent family payment. She got a job in her local crèche in September but needed to wait for Garda vetting to qualify. Her vetting only cleared yesterday. She was told that, once she had been vetted, she could start immediately, but FÁS has since told the crèche that she cannot start until January, meaning that she will lose her one-parent family benefit. This measure disproportionately hits the less well-off and is unfair, doubly so for the woman in question. Will the Minister reconsider it?
I need not go to great lengths to emphasise that many people will suffer badly due to this unfair budget. I do not accept the Government’s argument that it is balanced, as the budget does not affect the rich as much as it affects the less well-off.

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