Thursday, 24 September 2009

MaltaToday: AD – ‘Government should not stigmatise single mothers’

Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green Party expressed its disagreement at the way government had “singled out single mothers to curtail its budgetary deficit.”

Michael Briguglio, spokesperson for Social and Economic Development, said finance minister Tonio Fenech should explain why he chose to pinpoint single mothers in his speech on reform in welfare benefits.

“Rather than attempting to score cheap political points, Fenech should consult sociological research which clearly shows that single parents are amongst the most vulnerable groups in society. Making them scapegoats for Government austerity measures, will only help increase poverty, social exclusion and social stigma.”

Fenech has insisted that benefits to single mothers will be reviewed in the upcoming Budget, to ensure benefits are paid to those women who deserve them. He said the benefits should not act as a disincentive for mothers to enter the labour market. “There are single mothers who are deserving of the benefit and we have to continue to sustain them but we have to make sure that the woman does not find it comfortable to remain at home with the government effectively paying her a wage.”

Briguglio said that if the Nationalist Government wants more single mothers in employment, then it should encourage them to do so through the provision of affordable and accessible childcare centres, “flexible working hours coupled with job security, fiscal incentives, and, where possible and recommendable, making absent fathers responsible for their children.”

AD chairperson Profs. Arnold Cassola: “The Nationalist government under Lawrence Gonzi keeps moving towards an ultra-conservative and neo-liberal direction. Rather than devising inclusive laws towards different family forms, the Gonzi government is totally cut off from the realities of single mothers, single fathers, same-sex couples, partners in cohabitation and people who would like to re-marry following a failed marriage. This is fuelling social exclusion and inequality.”

Cassola said that while abuse in benefits should be tackled, the economic crisis has also impacted government finances. “But if Dr Gonzi and Minister Fenech have a problem with government finances, they should also look at unsustainable electoral promises and shameful decisions such as the discount of €3.3 million to Midi for waste dumped at sea.”

[The same press release has been published here too:]

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