Question No: 331 Ref No: 32026-14
To the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the extent to which she and her Department continue to identify and isolate poverty traps affecting families with school going children; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Bernard J. Durkan.
* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 17th July, 2014.
R E P L Y
Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):
Paid parental employment is an important route out of poverty for families and their children. The financial gain from the transition from welfare to work can be quantified by replacement rates, which measure the ratio of out-of-work income to take home income from work. Departmental analysis supported by ESRI research demonstrates that the great majority of people on the Live Register have a strong financial incentive to work and significant numbers leave the Live Register each year for employment.
High replacement rates are generally associated with a relatively large number of dependent children and/or receipt of rent or mortgage supplement. To address high replacement ratios associated with dependent children, my Department provides family income supplement (FIS) to support the income of working parents on low earnings. FIS is currently paid to some 44,000 families in respect of some 99,000 children, with an estimated expenditure of over €280 million in 2014. FIS is an in-work benefit for families who might otherwise lose child welfare benefits when taking up work. In addition, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs provides subsidised childcare for low paid families, including after-school options.
The Statement of Government Priorities 2014-2016 contains a commitment to introduce measures to improve the system of child income supports in Budget 2015 so that those moving from welfare to work will retain child payments and ensure they are better off in work. This will be informed by the work of the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare on cost-effective proposals for improving employment incentives and achieving better poverty outcomes, particularly child poverty outcomes. The Group is currently progressing its final module of work on the issue of working age income supports.