69. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on an independent review (details supplied) on the amendments to the one-parent family payment since 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46858/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017)
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 69 and 72 together.
The independent review completed by Indecon of the changes to the one-parent family payment since 2012 provides a robust and thorough analysis of these changes. I am grateful to Indecon for their work on this and welcome the findings of the review.
The Report supports the rationale and continued relevance of the policy changes made since 2012. It highlights that employment rates increased among lone parents and welfare dependency decreased. However, the report also highlights the risk of poverty for lone parents with no or low-paid employment and the associated policy challenge to integrate these lone parents into the Irish labour market.
These findings reinforced my commitment to make lone parents one of my priorities in Budget 2018 and I have delivered on that commitment. Budget 2018 includes a €5 increase per week in the rates of payment, an increase in the qualified child payment of €2 per week, an increase in the earnings disregard on the one-parent family payment and jobseeker’s transitional payment from €110 to €130 per week. It also extended the fuel allowance season by an additional week, and provided for an increase of €10 per week in the working family payment thresholds (formerly the family income supplement) for families with 1 to 3 children and the continued availability of the back to work family dividend. All of these measures will benefit lone parents.
I intend to provide for the further review of my Department’s supports for lone parents and I anticipate that this review will include data to the end of 2018.