SPONSORED: Child maintenance reforms will make ‘significant difference’ to lone parent families in Kilkenny and Carlow
Sinn Féin TD for Carlow-Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion has welcomed the publication of the report by the Child Maintenance Review Group which was established in 2020.
The report concluded that child maintenance is in need of immediate and radical reform, urgency the local Sinn Féin TD says she has repeatedly sought from Government on this issue.
These reforms will make a significant difference to one parent families in Carlow-Kilkenny and across the State.
Speaking about the announcement, Teachta Funchion said: “I welcome the publication of this report. Sinn Féin have been raising ongoing issues around child maintenance and the need for it to be reformed for years now, as have organisations representing one parent families.
“The Child Maintenance Review Group have been crystal clear in the first two areas of concern – where child maintenance payments are made, they should be disregarded in their entirety from all means testing for social welfare payments and that the requirement to seek maintenance as a condition to receive both the One Parent Family Payment and Jobseekers Transition be removed.
“These are two requests my party colleagues have made to [Social Protection] Minister [Heather] Humphreys and she needs to act on these two recommendations immediately.
“These requests can be addressed as part of the Social Welfare Amendment Bill that is coming forward next week, which we are calling for. If the minister drags her feet in moving on these recommendations, myself and my party colleagues will act on the matter to push forward these important changes.
“The Review Group also question the merits of the Liable Relative Unit within the Department of Social Protection and concluded that the provisions around Liable Relatives should be discontinued. Again, using the figures of the amount of money the Unit has recouped, we have repeatedly criticised this and this is another welcome recommendation from the group.”
However, Deputy Funchion said it is “disappointing” agreement could not be reached among the review group to seek the establishment of a State child maintenance agency.
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD added: “It is notable that the majority of the group wanted to see this recommendation made, which is significant given their detailed examination of the issue and consideration of best practice internationally.
“The Group indicated interest in the model in place in the North where a Child Maintenance Service exists. This is the model Sinn Féin have advocated for over many years and the Group did acknowledge our policy in their report.
“The idea of leaving child maintenance in the Courts system makes no sense. It ignores the reality that Lone Parents are not comfortable with this setting and crucially, it has not worked. We have called again on Minister Humphreys to examine our proposal on the establishment of a Child Maintenance Service.
“There is much emphasis in this report on the levels of poverty and deprivation experienced by one parent families. It is not news that these families experience some of the highest levels of deprivation in the State, and we now we need action once and for all.”