Minister Doherty announces publication of the Indecon Review


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Minister Doherty announces publication of the Indecon Review on the impact of the changes to the One-parent Family Payment scheme on lone parents

 

9th October 2017: Today, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty T.D. has announced the publication of the independent review by Indecon of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment.  In this Review, Indecon examined the financial, social, poverty and welfare dependency impacts of the changes to the One-parent Family Payment (OFP) scheme since January 2012.
The Minister welcomed a number of positive findings in the Review:

 
  • The policy changes introduced have been successful in increasing employment and in reducing welfare dependency – the reforms increased the probability of both employment and of higher employment income.
  • Responses to the survey showed that the percentage of lone parents in full-time employment increased from 15% to 22%.
  • Welfare dependency rates fell in the year after One-parent Family Payment was lost, and continued to fall in subsequent years.
 

She said that these findings indicated that the broad policy intentions of the changes were having positive results and making real changes to the lives of lone parents, where they had been able to transition into employment. The Minister acknowledged, however, that the review had also raised a number of matters of concern –

  • Many of those who lost the One-parent Family Payment remained unemployed, or were in low paid or part-time employment,
  • The balance of evidence indicates that there is an increased probability of being at risk of poverty as a result of the changes,
  • Further supports, aimed at assisting lone parents to obtain full-time employment or increased hours of work, need to be put in place.

Minister Doherty said that the impacts on lone parents arose from the combination of the policy changes to the scheme, and from the imposition, simultaneously, of the financial cuts imposed to welfare schemes across the board, arising out of the economic downturn.  Action has already been taken in recent Budgets, the Minister said, to improve the position of lone parents in particular, for example by progressively increasing the income disregard for those on Jobseekers Transition (JST) from a low of €60 a week to €110 euro a week, and by targeting improved, tailored activation measures towards this group, to assist them into training and employment. 

 

For example lone parents who wish to participate in education can continue to receive support from the Department either through the retention of their primary payment or Family Income Supplement or they can transfer to the Back to Education Allowance. Furthermore, to support lone parents participate in education, SUSI grants (both maintenance and fee grants) are payable concurrently with One-parent Family Payment and Jobseekers Transition.  Therefore a lone parent can participate in education and receive the dual support of the One-parent Family Payment/ Jobseekers Transition and the SUSI maintenance grants.

 

Where the lone parent is on Jobseekers Allowance they can, should they wish to participate in education, transfer to the Back to Education programme.  The additional childcare supports coming on-stream would also be of benefit to lone parents.

 

Minister Doherty acknowledged that these measures were a step in the right direction, and that it would be necessary to ensure there was no loss in the momentum to enhance the support for lone parents.  She noted that the Review pointed to the need to intensify both the engagement with lone parents as they move off One-parent Family Payment, and the activation supports available, and she is requesting her officials to prioritise this.

 

The Department’s employment services provide a case-managed approach to assist lone parents to avail of various opportunities within an ever-improving labour market.  This case-managed approach will be developed further, specifically to offer more tailored and holistic progression plans for lone parents, that better reflect their individual circumstances.

 

The move to more tailored progressions plans for lone parents will incorporate supports to access the childcare, education and training and other appropriate supports that they require to, in turn, access the labour market.  These changes should help to improve the living standards of, and reduce the risk of poverty faced by, lone parents.

 

“I intend to continue to prioritise supports for lone parents particularly those which incentivise work over welfare”, Minister Doherty said.  “I intend also to provide for the further review of the scheme.   As there is a time lag before the benefits of labour market reforms appear I anticipate that this review will include data to the end of 2018.” 

 

The Minister thanked Indecon for the work that had been done in finalising the Review, within an exceedingly challenging timeframe.  She also acknowledged the thoroughness of the research, and in particular thanked the lone parents who themselves participated in the survey, which was one of the largest surveys of its kind. 

ENDS 
 

Note for Editors

 

Indecon Report

 

The Indecon Report was produced in line with a legislative requirement in the Social Welfare Act 2016 to carry out an independent review on the amendments to the One-parent Family Payment, following policy changes to the scheme. 

 

The report ‘Indecon Independent Reviewof the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012is available on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s website www.welfare.ie under publications/research. 

 

One-parent Family Payment (OFP) and Jobseekers Transition Payment (JST)

 

The OFP is a means-tested payment for men and women who are bringing up a child – or children – without the support of a partner. A claimant must:

  • be widowed,
  • be a surviving civil partner,
  • be separated,
  • be divorced,
  • have a dissolved civil partnership,
  • be unmarried,
  • be a person who is not party to a civil partnership, or
  • be a prisoner’s spouse or civil partner.

The person must also have main care and charge of at least one child who is residing with them as well as not be co-habiting with someone, and must have made efforts to seek maintenance.

 

JST is available to lone parents (both former OFP recipients and new lone parents), who have a youngest child aged 7 to 13 years inclusive and who meet the conditions of OFP except for the age of the youngest child.  These lone parents are exempt from conditions which apply to the Jobseekers Allowance:

  • requiring them to be available for, and genuinely seeking, full-time work;
  • requiring them to be unemployed for 4 out of 7 days
 

OFP and JST recipients who are in education and who qualify for the SUSI maintenance grant will not have this grant assessed as means for their payment.

 
Last modified:09/10/2017