Single parents are likely to be the hardest hit by tax rises and spending cuts in the forthcoming Budget, it has been warned.
Independent think-tank Tasc found in a report on the impact of last year's Budget that lone parents lost 5% of their income, compared with married couples with children who lost just 1.3%.
The group called for the Government to ensure vulnerable people, such as single mothers and fathers who were found to be the country's lowest earners, are protected in the new Budget.
Tasc head of policy Sinead Pentony said: "Inequality played a central role in causing the global crisis, and closing the equality gap - in the first instance by protecting those on low incomes - will not only enhance the well being of individuals, but will also help boost demand in the economy."
Single men with no dependants earning between 15,070 and 19,059 euro also fared badly as a result of last year's Budget, losing 4.25% of their annual income.
The report claimed much of this was down to the lowering of the personal and PAYE tax credits and the introduction of the 7% Universal Service Charge rate on annual earnings above 16,500 euro.
Nat O'Connor, director of the think-tank, said an equality audit should be carried out as part of the budgetary process in order to do this.
"Our findings show that low income groups lost proportionately more than higher income groups as a result of the tax and social welfare measures in Budget 2011, and that lone parents were particularly hard hit," she said.
Among that group, which is most at risk of poverty, 73% were women and 27% were men.
Ms O'Connor added: "It is crucial that a comprehensive distributional analysis be carried out by the Department of Finance in advance of every Budget to ensure that vulnerable groups are not the losers as a result of budgetary measures."