Monday 11 December 2017

More than 30,000 families will lose lone-parent payment in July

Joan Burton
Joan Burton
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

More than 30,000 single parents will lose their One-Parent Family payments this July, the Department of Social Protection has said.

The move is the final stage in a Government plan to phase out these payments once children reach seven years of age in a bid to encourage single parents off welfare and into work.

But other changes to the welfare system have already contributed to a drop in the proportion of single parents working, the Dáil social protection committee was told yesterday.

Some 49pc of recipients of the One-Parent Family payment were in employment in 2011, but this fell to 36pc in 2013, partly because of the general economic crisis but also because they were no longer permitted to work on community employment schemes while keeping their welfare payments, said department official Niall Egan.

The proportion of lone-parent welfare recipients working has now gone back up to 45pc, but continued reform is needed to stop these families being trapped in consistent poverty, he said.

Groups representing lone parents told the committee that the forthcoming changes will hit the incomes of already impoverished single-parent families and actually make it harder for them to work because of the way the new social welfare supports are structured.

Lone-parent families will move to a new transitional jobseekers' payment once their youngest child reaches seven years, but they will be €53 a week worse off if they also work in low-paying jobs because of changes to how the system treats this income, said the group Spark.

Older

One in four families, around 215,000 in all, is headed by a lone parent, and some 70,000 of these receive the One-Parent Family payment, but the Government has been gradually removing it as children get older, so that by July 2015 the payment will be cut off once the youngest child reaches seven years.

Tánaiste Joan Burton introduced the new age limits on one parent family payments in 2011, and 11,000 have already been moved off it, with 30,200 set to see the payments end in July.

Irish Independent

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