For release: Wednesday 02.12.09
PARENTS GATHER TO WARN GOVERNMENT AGAINST CUTS TO CHILD BENEFIT
PACUB, OPEN, One Family, the Children’s Rights Alliance and the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), have come together once again to organise a public gathering outside Dáil Eireann tonight at 6pm which will coincide with the Labour Party’s Private Member’s Motion which seeks to protect Child Benefit in the Budget.
Orla O’Connor, NWCI Head of Policy, explained that the gathering was being organised to oppose any cuts or changes to child benefit next week, and to also support the Labour Party’s motion.‘ We know from the members of all 5 organisations; that families are struggling, now more than ever, to make ends meet and any cuts to child benefit will only serve to make their situations far more difficult to bear’, stated Ms O’Connor.
Treasa Dovander, from PACUB (Protest against Child Unfriendly Budget) stated: ‘ Families have already taken substantial hits in this recession – without complaint they have shouldered higher taxes, levies, loss of mortgage interest relief and this month sees the end of the Early Childcare Supplement. Today Child Benefit is the only remaining state support given to all families as a contribution towards the cost of rearing children. It helps working parents towards the cost of childcare or after-school care, it facilitates mothers who stay at home to look after their children. In fact, 61% of women in our survey said that any cuts to child benefit might force them to leave work.’
Jillian van Turnhout of the Children’s Rights Alliance, stated that ‘Child Benefit is the only payment in the country that is paid on behalf of nearly every single child. Its universality is a clear statement that a country cherishes all of the children in Ireland equally. Child Benefit is a regular, reliable and easy to access payment that every family is entitled to, without stigma. Children’s money should not be up for grabs. The CRA call for the integration of our tax and welfare systems to enable the State to respond to the changing circumstances of families. We need to find a way to ensure that all of our children are supported.’
“According to recent CSO figures, one parent families remain at the highest risk of poverty”, said Frances Byrne of OPEN, adding “hard-pressed lone parents need child benefit to help them to meet the shortfall they face in trying to look after their children properly”. ‘Many lone parents have already experienced a significant drop in their family’s income due to cuts already imposed and many more face the risk of increasing poverty due to reduced job opportunities, rising childcare costs and increasing competition for training and education places. A cut in child benefit will make this bad situation worse’ stated Candy Murphy of One Family.
The five groups support the Labour Party’s Motion to protect child benefit in next week’s budget and note that the other Dail opposition parties, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein are also opposed to cuts to Child Benefit; with Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny TD recently stating that ‘in so far as Fine Gael is concerned, it is possible to achieve the savings (needed from the Social Welfare Budget) without having to resort to cutting child benefit.
PACUB, OPEN, One Family, The Children’s Rights Alliance and the NWCI therefore call on the government to avoid raiding the piggy banks of children around the country and to support families in these difficult financial times by maintaining child benefit at its current level in next week’s budget.
Contact: Orla O’Connor, NWCI: 087 648 3516
Treasa Dovander, PACUB, 085 109 6399
Jillian Van Turnhout, CRA, 087 7702845
Frances Byrne, OPEN, 086 8143297
Candy Murphy, One Family, 0872933180
Details of Gathering:
When: Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Where: Outside Dail Eireann, Kildare Street, Dublin 2
Time: 6pm – 7pm