The Government’s decision to change the qualification criteria for the One-Parent Family Payment is set to affect a number of families in County Longford and surrounding areas.
Under new guidelines introduced by the Department of Social Protection last week, the One-Parent Family Payment will only be issued to parents whose youngest child is under seven years-old.
Approximately 5,000 one parent families will have their payment cut off, with this figure expected to rise to 9,000 by the end of the year.
And up to 60,000 one-parent families will affected when children under the age of seven lose their eligibility in 2015.
“I can’t live without it,” said Angela O’Callaghan, a single mother living in the Killashee area.
“I can’t claim jobseekers allowance as I’m in full-time education, and I have another year to go on the course, so I’m not available to work until then. I’ve tried to find jobs before but there was nothing out there without computer skills, so that’s why I’m doing this VTOS course.”
Angela explained that her family’s income will fall by €217 per week, adding that, “if the One-Parent Family Payment is taken from me, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
At present, she is entitled to €28 a week while she studies, a monthly mortgage assistance allowance of €71.46, and a monthly children’s allowance payment of €130 for her youngest child.
“The Family Income Supplement would only be available if I was working a certain number of hours, which I can’t do in full-time education.”
“I received a back to school allowance for my daughter, which is €200,” she continued. “This won’t even cover the cost of the school bus, which is €350 for the year, never mind uniforms and books.
“My mortgage is €440 per month and I’m in arrears as it is,” said the mother of four. “To complicate matters, the house is in my name, but my ex-husband’s name was on the mortgage.
“There was a court order to have it removed, but the mortgage lender is ignoring this, so I can’t seek a repayment plan without his signature.
“I’ve been getting letters telling me the payment is going to be cut, but there’s been no advice from Social Welfare on how to cope without it.
“I can’t live without the payment; I need it to feed myself and my daughter,” she concluded.
“I get up every morning knowing this is facing me, but what else can I do?”