30,000 single parents have lost their One-Parent Family payments
More than 30,000 single parents have lost their One-Parent Family payments this from this July, in a move by the Government plan to phase out these payments once children reach seven years of age, and in a bid to encourage single parents off welfare and into work.
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. 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,
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.
215,000 families are 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 as of 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 previously moved off of it, and as of this July, a further 30,200 saw the payments end
The Government said its aim is to enable one-parent families move out of welfare dependency.
Burton explained that those lone parent’s in the home on social welfare receive €218 per week which puts them at a high risk of poverty, but by working 19 hours on minimum wage would increase their income as they will also be entitled to other government initiatives like the back to work scheme.
Burton said the Department of Social Protection will help people claiming the benefit to find employment.
Lone-parents groups have slammed the move, with some stating it could push one-parent families into homelessness.