Welfare cuts spell a war on women


Under the guise of fighting poverty, the Government is set to attack the welfare of lone parents.The Irish Government is planning to replace the ‘One Parent Family Allowance‘, a welfare payment for single parents of children under the age of eighteen with the ‘Parental Allowance‘. The primary difference between two is that while the OPFA ends when the parent's youngest child is eighteen, the PA ends when the youngest child turns eight. At this stage the parent will be transferred to an ordinary unemployment benefit, and will thus be forced into the job market. At present the policy is on trial in Kilkenny and Dublin, but the Government hopes to apply it throughout the state in the next Budget.

There are over 80, 000 lone parents in the 26 Counties, 98% of whom are women. Single parents as a group are particularly vulnerable to poverty. Although the reforms are masquerading as an attempt to combat poverty it seems like they will only disempower single parents, forcing them into low wage employment and disrupting their ability to care for their children. The reason for this is that when the parents are on the Jobseeker’s Allowance they will have to choose between taking training courses or flexible employment. Training courses tend to be full time making them impossible for parents who have to get the kids to school, pick them up again, cook their dinner etc. On the other hand, part-time employment is very poorly paid, and will leave parents struggling to make ends meet.

The State is forcing single mothers and fathers into an impossible situation. Despite the anti-poverty rhetoric, there is nothing progressive about these ‘reforms‘. They are motivated by a general policy of ‘workfare’, a policy direction which tries to ‘activate’ unemployed people into low waged work; a neat combo to cut the welfare budget and provide business with a steady supply of low wage workers. Such policies are becoming more and more common across the EU, having being brought into England by Blair's New Labour, and even instituted in 'social democratic' Denmark.

Government plans to import such policies here will make all our lives more difficult; single parents will be forced into taking any crappy job and deprived of time with their children, unemployment will become more work than a job under the constant supervision of ‘job counsellors’. The government are trying to dress up these policies as 'anti-poverty measures' and might even pretend that they don't have the money for social welfare, this is nonsense. They are directly attacking the working class, trying to force down wages, and skimp on their welfare budgets. Our welfare system was won by collective action, we shouldn’t sit back and let the government destroy it.

From Workers Solidarity 102 the issue for March & April 2008



PDF of the Ulster edition of Workers Solidarity 102

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