One Family Responds to Media Reports of Social Welfare Fraud and Notion of the ‘Undeserving Lone Parent’

Press Release

One Family Responds to Media Reports

of Social Welfare Fraud and

Notion of the ‘Undeserving Lone Parent’

(Dublin, Wednesday 9 October 2013) One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, responds to recent reports of social welfare fraud and the targeting of claimants of one-parent family benefits by Department of Social Protection investigators.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, states: “We find it abhorrent that there are some two-parent families masquerading as lone parents in order to receive more social welfare than they are entitled to. Whilst the social welfare system needs an overhaul to ensure that resources are put most where they are needed, i.e. with poor children in poor families, fraud is not the answer as it hurts lone parents and their children, and others reliant on state support.”

Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Director of Policy, comments:  “The dismantling and restructuring of social protection programmes have impacted disproportionately on women, especially lone parents, and shifted public discourse and images to welfare as fraud, thereby linking poverty, welfare and crime. Consequently, genuine lone parents can be demonised as welfare cheats. This almost criminalisation of poverty raises questions related to regulation, control, and the relationship between them, and it would behove the government to be extremely careful about their representation of fraud.

There are three possible causes of irregular payments in the welfare system, fraud (dishonest intent), customer and/or third-party error and departmental error. An analysis by One Family which is available on, has found that ‘Control Savings’– the internal performance indicator on the effectiveness of the Department of Social Protection’s (DSP) control measures, which has become a publicly quoted figure when the DSP wishes to report its efforts to reduce suspected fraud and error – is a poorly generated estimate. There is enough evidence to be concerned that the Department’s guidelines are not applied consistently across regions and that the predetermined multipliers used to generate estimated future savings do not accurately reflect return rates to welfare schemes.

According to an audit carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), fraud and error in the Irish welfare system was estimated to be between 2.4% and 4.4% in 2010 (C&AG, 2011).  This would seem to place it in a comparable position with the UK (2.7%), New Zealand (2.7%) and Canada (3-5%).

Ms Kiernan concluded: “It is time the media and policy makers stop perpetuating notions of the deserving and undeserving poor. Social welfare and other state supports should be based on evidence of need and from a perspective of equality and fairness, not from who is politically expedient to target.

Notes for Editors:

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland
  • Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today (25.8% of all families with children; Census 2011)
  • 87,586 of those are currently receiving the One-Parent Family Payment
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 56% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2011)
  • The document ‘One Family Analysis: DSP Control Savings Research’ is available to read and download here.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to those working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services. These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 622 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with 10,000 people attending events this year on 19 May ( For further information, visit

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511