Are we ready for Single Working Age payment (SWAP)

Media release
Embargo: 1pm 13 March, 2012

Are we ready for Single Working Age Payment – Lone parents need flexibility, childcare and jobs

One Family welcomes the publication of the Report on the Single Working Age Payment (SWAP) Proposal by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education. As one of the key organisations consulted in the crafting of the report we agree with the Committee’s call to the Minister not to proceed with the proposal for SWAP at this time.

Karen Kiernan, Director of One Family explains: “Lone parents have been working in part-time jobs for many years because there is insufficient access to affordable and quality childcare. Particularly important is access to before and after school times to support full-time work, this was not even achieved when the economy was in boom and there were job opportunities.”

She continues: “Budget 2012 delivered a series of harsh cuts directed at lone parents who are trying to move off social welfare. The cutting of the income disregard (ie the amount someone can earn whilst in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment) and cuts in supports for Community Employment are retrograde steps which move poor families deeper into poverty and takes them further away from the labour market, especially at a time when the Government is going to make them seek work when their youngest child is seven years old.”

The recommendations of the report support One Family’s fundamental and  ongoing message that currently there are not enough accessible jobs in Ireland to introduce the SWAP and none of the services recommended to support families move out of poverty  are in place and are unlikely to be in place in the near future due to fiscal constraints.

As a result of this, Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Welfare to Work Manager comments: “For lone parents to have accessible and sustainable work and move their families out of persistent poverty parents need quality, affordable childcare and when they are moved onto a single working age payment the eligibility criteria for seeking work needs to be on a part-time basis as is best practice in other countries.” (see notes to editor)

He continues:  “There also needs to be some  flexibilities for parents where their child has specific needs; where the family  has recently suffered from domestic violence; they may have just separated; be studying full or part-time or in an approved training programme; or be caring for an ill or disabled person full-time.”                            Ends


Karen Kiernan, Director One Family.                 T: 01 662 9212          M: 086-850-9191

Stuart Duffin, Welfare to Work Manager           T: 01 662 9212          M: 087-0622-023

Notes to editors:

Report on the Single Working Age Payment Proposal by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education                                                              (Source )

Exemptions from expectation to be available for fulltime work for lone parents in other jurisdictions:

New Zealand

You may have circumstances that make it unreasonable for us to expect you to meet your work obligations. If this is the case, you may be able to get an exemption. Exemptions are temporary and the duration depends on your individual situation, such as:

  • your child has special needs
  • you’ve just separated
  • you’ve recently suffered from domestic violence
  • you’re studying full time at level 4 or above or in an approved training course
  • your spouse or partner has recently died
  • you’re more than 27 weeks pregnant or have complications with your pregnancy
  • you’re caring for an ill or disabled person full-time.                                  (Source)

United States

The federal legislation entitled, Family Violence Option, allows states to provide time-limited exemptions from welfare eligibility requirements for victims of domestic violence. (Source)

Nordic countries

Several countries in Northern Europe have a conditional work requirement policy towards lone parents that recognises that it is unreasonable to force those parenting alone into work if affordable childcare is not available to them.                                          (Source)

United Kingdom

Single parents and jobseeker’s allowance – special rules focused on access to part-time work options and childcare.                                                                                (Source )