Question No: 63 & 66 Ref No: 25380-15
To the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the degree to which she has evaluated the impact of reduced One Parent Family Allowance on the recipients in certain circumstances where the alternatives offered may still result in a considerably reduced income; if she will consider any ameliorating measures in such circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Bernard J. Durkan.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the steps, if any, available to her to address issues of One Parent Families that have experienced a reduction in their income from One Parent Family Allowance notwithstanding the various alternatives on offer; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Bernard J. Durkan.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 24th June, 2015.
R E P L Y
Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):
It is proposed to take 63 & 66 together
The purpose of the reform of the one parent family payment is to maximise the opportunities for lone parents to enter into and increase employment. I welcome the considerable debate that has been generated by this reform, which commenced in 2012. My priority is to ensure that we, as a society, arrive at a situation where lone parents have the same opportunities to access employment, training and education. Despite committing extensive funding to lone parent payments since the 1970s, lone parents remain the most at-risk-of-poverty, and their children are at a high risk of poverty.
The final phase of the one-parent family payment age reforms are due to take place on 2 July 2015 when approximately 29,400 one-parent family payment recipients will be transitioning out of the one-parent family payment scheme. Approximately 19,800 are expected to transition to the jobseeker’s transitional payment, 4,100 to jobseeker’s allowance and 5,500 to a re-rated family income supplement.
The 5,500 customers already on family income supplement will have their payment automatically increased to take account of the loss of 60% of their one-parent family payment income and have received letters to that effect. These individuals will also qualify for the back to work family dividend (BTWFD), which allows them to retain their increase for a qualified child when they transition off the one parent family payment. The Dividend is worth €1,550 per child in the first year and reducing to 50% entitlement worth €775 per child in the second year.
All remaining customers were invited to attend information sessions in their local Intreo offices where they were advised of the different options available to them when they transition from the one-parent family payment scheme. At these information sessions, staff of the Department informed lone parents that the most financially advantageous option available to them was to work a minimum of 19 hours per week and claim family income supplement.
On foot of these information sessions, estimates suggest that to date over 1,250 of these lone parents have become first time family income supplement recipients. These individuals are now financially better off than when they were claiming the one-parent family payment. These customers will also qualify for the BTWFD from 2 July 2015.
The majority of customers who will move to a jobseeker’s payment will have no change in their weekly income. However, individuals who are earning above €60 per week may incur a loss as the jobseeker’s means test is less generous than the equivalent one-parent family payment means test.
Lone parents who transition to the jobseeker’s transitional payment will be supported by the Department to produce a personal development plan with the help of a case officer on a one to one basis. My Department will continue work with lone parents to provide them with enhanced access to the Department’s supports and services.
I look forward to examining the various supports available to all families with children, including single parent families, in the next Budget. In particular, I will look at the scope for improvements in the child benefit, as well as other supports for families in part-time or full-time employment.