Statement | Response to Indecon Report on One Parent Family Payment Reform

One Family Response to the Report ‘Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012’

A long-awaited report, prepared by Indecon Research Economists on behalf of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, was released late this afternoon. It is regrettable this this important report has been made available on the evening before Budget 2018 is scheduled to be announced, as it warrants attention that it may not now receive.

Our initial analysis of the 141-page report highlights that:

  • While the Exchequer saves €45m net, lone parents and their children are poorer as a result of the recent reform of the One Parent Family Payment (OFP).
  • It is an in-depth report yet no recommendations and only short conclusions are offered.
  • Can any report guarantee accuracy if some of the survey questions from which the data is drawn provided only positive response options?
  • Where is the recognition of the parenting responsibilities of lone parents? One Family is shocked that childcare appears to be mentioned only twice.
  • Where too is the recognition of the impacts of the fear, stress, and uncertainty placed on lone parents and their children as a result of this reform; and the lack of clarity in its communication and implementation? 43% of parents reported that their family wellbeing decreased due to the reform and 40% said their children’s wellbeing decreased.
  • There is no indication that the marginal increases in employment will have any longevity given the precarious and low paid nature of these employments, and 53% of survey respondents stated that the OFP reforms resulted in being financially worse off. Only 20% noted an improvement.
  • 63% of the respondents in full-time employment stated that they cannot afford 3+ items on the deprivation list, meaning that they are most definitely experiencing deprivation daily, and in-work poverty.
  • There is no acknowledgment that lone parents in education and in receipt of OFP or Job Seekers Transition Payment (JST) and rent support cannot avail of the SUSI maintenance grant.

The report acknowledges that “a potential concern is that many of those who lost OFP remain unemployed or in low paid or part-time employment” and that “a key challenge for policymakers is to assist lone parents to become more integrated into the Irish labour market.”

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission includes recommendations that would enable Government to achieve this. The failure of the reform of the OFP means that it is essential that Minister Doherty engage with these recommendations.

They include:

  • Full restoration of the Income Disregard.
  • Allow BTEA and SUSI maintenance to be payable together, targeting those most distant from the labour market.
  • Increased CDAQCI for older children and poorer families.
  • Target employability supports for lone parents.
  • It is also essential that, as we have consistently called for, the Department’s Case Officers receive training to support lone parents appropriately and in recognition of their lived realities.

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission can be read here.

The Indecon report can be read here.