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Policy | DSP will Review Changes to One Parent Family Payment

The Department of Social Protection agreed to review the changes to the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) at Committee stage of the Social Welfare Bill 2016 on Thursday 17 November.

It is essential that review of the OFP reform be carried out urgently, as One Family has consistently called for. A cohesive report on the potential outcomes should have been conducted prior to implementation which could have avoided the negative impacts experienced by a large number of lone parents in part-time work.

Family Income Supplement (FIS) will also be reviewed; a new proposed Working Family Payment was included in the Programme for Government last May.

The analysis of the State’s child poverty rates is immediately necessary. One in nine (11%) children aged 0-17  live in consistent poverty (SILC 2014). Children living in one-parent family households are almost twice as likely to live in poverty than other children, with 23% of children in a one-parent family experiencing deprivation.

The Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) will also be reviewed. This is welcomed as the halving of this payment after one year, and suspension after two years, is clearly causing lone parents to be worse off in work. An improved longer term solution is needed.

1st Amendments:

(5) The Minister shall review the changes introduced to the One-Parent Family Payment in 2012 particularly in light of the report by Dr Millar and Dr Crosse on lone parents and activation and shall bring forward a report to the Committee on Social Protection on same within 3 months of this Bill being enacted.

(6) The Minister shall review the operation of the Family Income Supplement to see how it could be improved to encourage and facilitate people to re(enter) the workforce and shall bring forward a report to the Committee on Social Protection on same within 3 months of this Bill being enacted.

The first list of amendments can be found in full on this link.

2nd Amendments:

(1)Report on One-Parent Family Payment changes. That an independent report shall be conducted on the financial and social effects of the changes to the One-Parent Family Payment since 2015, taking account inter alia of poverty rates among those in receipt of the payment and that the report shall be presented to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Welfare within six months of enactment of this Bill.

(2)That an analysis of the State’s child poverty rates is carried out annually and that an independent report shall be issued to the Minister and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on  Social Protection.

(3)Report on operation of Back to Work Family Dividend 14. That a report shall be issued to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection on the effects of the Back to Work Family Dividend to recipients and to include inter alia the poverty rates among those in receipt of this payment.

The second list of amendments can be found in full on this link.

 

Dad and child's hands

Press Release | Budget 2017 – Partial Reversals of OFP Reforms Welcomed but it is Not Enough

Press Release

Budget 2017 – One Family Welcomes

Partial Reversals of OFP Reforms

New Government has made a start but it is not yet enough

(Dublin, Tuesday 11 October 2016) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – welcomes the announcements of improved childcare supports, the €5 increases to the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Back to Education Allowance, increases in the Income Disregard level for the OFP and Jobseeker’s Transition (JST) rates, and the Cost of Education Allowance; but reacts overall to Budget 2017 as a missed opportunity to strategically support vulnerable one-parent families.  All the recommendations from the recent NUIG report on Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context must be fully implemented particularly given the enormously high poverty rates experienced by these families: almost 60% of individuals from these households experience one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2014).

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, states: “We’ve long been calling for a restoration of income disregards and welcome this rise from €90 to €110 per week, along with some other long overdue announcements, but a full restoration to €146.50 per week is needed to support lone parents in work.  And again we see no cohesive attempt to break down the barriers that one-parent families in receipt of social welfare payments still face, and nothing to acknowledge those who share parenting. Lone parents with children over 14 are still subject to full Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) conditionality and in particular, a much harsher means testing of additional income despite the recent CSO release from Q2 showing that employment rates have dropped for lone parents with children aged 12-17. There has been no change to Family Income Support (FIS) criteria such as the hours reduction we have called for, a most simple and cost-effective way to support parents to access employment.

“People parenting alone want to contribute to society through employment, they want to further their education and get out of living in poverty, but are caught in the trap of week to week survival. This Budget may make some difference for some families, but after so many years of consistent deprivation, is this enough? Not yet. It is not enough to fully tackle the unacceptable reality of lone parents and their children being amongst the poorest in our society today. Cross-Departmental work to reverse cuts more positively is essential to ensure that the damage done over the past five years is reversed. The recipe for what is needed is in the NUIG research, and in our Pre-Budget Submission, and it must be fully implemented.”

Karen continues: “What is needed to lift these families out of poverty is not a mystery. Simply, we need targeted financial supports for poor children and investment in services; a childcare system that is accessible to poor children and families and available outside of school hours; a defined education pathway for people parenting alone; the ability to make work pay through in-work supports; and a system that can be clearly understood and is less complicated, both to payment recipients and the Department’s own staff in local offices, so that lone parents can trust that they will receive the support and guidance that is best for their families.”

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017 included recommendations designed to support lone parents into education and/or employment, while acknowledging their parenting responsibilities. There is now a golden opportunity for Government  to give hope to disadvantaged one-parent families, through following the NUIG research recommendations, and through working with and listening to the mine of evidence and experience being put forward by One Family and other organisations. Every parent must have an equal opportunity to create a better future for his or her children.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  • NUIG released Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context, commissioned by the Department of Social Protection, co-authored by Dr Michelle Millar and Dr Rosemary Crosse of the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre in NUI Galway, in September 2016.
  • One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission can be read here.
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is 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)
  • People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households in the state (EU-SILC 2014).
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 60% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2014).
  • 42,104 people are now receiving the One-Parent Family Payment. There are now 75,202 child dependents of One-Parent Family Payment recipients.
  • Of the approximately 25,500 customers who exited the OFP scheme on 2 July, 2015, the majority of customers transitioned to the Jobseeker’s Transitional payment, the Jobseeker’s Allowance payment and the Family Income Supplement. – 13,600 (or 54%) of them moved to the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST); – 2,500 (or 10%) of them moved to the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) scheme, and – 8,100 (or 32%) of them moved to the Family Income Supplement (FIS) scheme.

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals 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 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview:

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Further Information or to arrange an interview:

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

Cuts to Carer’s Allowance for Lone Parents Reversed by Tánaiste – But what about working lone parents?

Press Release 

Cuts to Carer’s Allowance for Lone Parents Reversed by Tánaiste –

But what about working lone parents?

(Dublin, Wednesday 4 March 2015) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating – welcomes Tánaiste Joan Burton’s announcement yesterday regarding people in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) who are also eligible for the half-rate Carer’s Allowance. That they will not now lose their half-rate Carer’s Allowance as had been previously stipulated is progress. However, we warn that Government also needs to urgently rethink how OFP activation measures are impacting on over 30,000 lone parents this year, particularly those working lone parents who will be hardest hit.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, responds: “While this necessary turnaround is welcomed, the Tánaiste also referred in the Dáil debate on the Social Welfare Bill yesterday to 10,000 lone parents who are currently in employment, saying that ‘the majority will have an immediate incentive to increase the number of hours worked each week to 19’ and, being then eligible to apply for Family Income Supplement (FIS) and the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD), would ‘be financially better off than their current position’.”

Karen further responds: “Sadly this statement again demonstrates the separation between Government’s perspective and the lived reality of one-parent families in Ireland today. The reality for most people is that they cannot simply demand that their employers increase their hours of employment because the Tánaiste thinks it’s good policy. This also ignores the reality that a lone parent with one child currently in employment and earning €200 per week while receiving FIS will be financially worse off by up to €38.32 per week after losing their entitlement to the OFP in July.”

Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes, comments: “This news will be welcomed by parents who provide caring supports for an adult; those who had lost their Carer’s Allowance entitlement of €86 per week last year and the 800 people who were scheduled to this year. It is a lifeline for the most vulnerable families with children who also care for family members who are ill, elderly or have special needs. It should have been just about the last thing Ministers should have considered cutting in the first place.”

Stuart continues:  “This announcement by the Tánaiste may help the rest of Government to rethink how we deliver welfare reform which is crucial for people in acute need. We know that lone parents want to work and 53% are already in the labour market.  What we keep calling for is provision of affordable, accessible, quality childcare which remains the greatest barrier to those parenting on their own in returning to the workplace or education. There needs to be a joined up plan of delivery across all Departments.”

The Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2013 results published on 21 January this year showed that those living in households with one adult and one or more children had the highest deprivation rate in 2013 at 63.2% and the highest consistent poverty rate at 23%. Reforms and activation should not force any lone parents who are in work to have to give up their jobs.

While the Department of Social Protection has committed to clearly communicating with all lone parents affected by the changes, we are also hearing from parents about gaps in knowledge in many local social welfare local offices where staff are not familiar with the impacts of the changes to the One-Parent Family Payment. This can lead to provision of inadequate or incorrect information to lone parents and causes unnecessary worry and stress for one-parent families.

Lone parents want to create the best possible outcomes for their children. With the right policies, the right time-frame, and the right level of political will, choices can be made to enable those thousands of one-parent families suffering deprivation to grow out of poverty and achieve better futures.

One Family continues to call on the Department of Social Protection to Get It Right for One-Parent Families #GetItRightDSP.

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish 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 sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals 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 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

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

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

 

 

A July of Fear and Insecurity for over 9,000 Lone Parents

Press Release

A July of Fear and Insecurity for over 9,000 Lone Parents

One Family will state at the pre-budget forum that Department of Social Protection has put lone parent families in the frontline of austerity and the back of the queue for the recover. 

www.onefamily.ie

(Dublin, Thursday 3 July 2014) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families – is participating  in Department of Social Protection’s pre-budget forum tomorrow, where One Family’s Stuart Duffin and a lone parent member of One Family’s Budget Panel will call for joined up thinking and security. The whole of Government must enable lone parents to create better futures rather than implementing further complicated systems that result in continued entrapment in poverty for families already on the edge, such as those being implemented today with changes to the One-Parent Family Payment.

“If you looked at me you’d never think I have only €16 to my name. I wear a suit to work in a very well-known company, my son is in a good crèche, I live in a 3 bedroom house (because it’s €100k in negative equity so I can’t afford to sell it). And here I am, without money for food.”

– Lone parent quoted in One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2015

58% of lone parents in Ireland are working, often in low paid part-time employment. Some working lone parents now face a barbaric income reduction of up to €200 per month.  The changes – first announced in Budget 2012 – are causing great confusion and stress to lone parents.  These men and women are not asking for hand-outs but to be supported as they strive towards bettering their children’s futures. The Department of Social Protection has put one-parent families in the frontline of austerity and the back of the queue for recovery due to the lack of development of joined up policies and supports. These cuts without supports such as out of school care, access to part-time education and less earned income have resulted in what feels like a sustained attack on one-parent families.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “Food banks symbolise the insecurity facing so many.  More needs to be done to understand and tackle the reasons why families have to access free food to live. We need a new approach that prioritises secure futures for one-parent families and that will reduce child poverty. Lone parents want and are keen to work yet the short-sighted nature of social welfare measurements firmly put one-parent families in deeper and deeper pits of poverty.”

The Pre-Budget Forum on Friday will be hosted by Minister Joan Burton. Its purpose is to provide organisations including One Family to input into the Budget process and to discuss their Pre-Budget Submissions with the Minister and senior officials of the Department.

Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy and Programmes, comments: “On Friday we will highlight that this is a chance to move on from attacking the victims of poverty to addressing its causes – such as the lack of decently paid jobs, expensive housing and unaffordable childcare that have left many lone parents doing too much of the heavy lifting out of poverty. The ridiculous reduction in the Income Disregard combined with the mediaeval threshold nature of FIS and its annual review disincentive the ability to work. One-parent families are consistently those most at risk of or living in poverty in Ireland. Now is the time for some real vision and ambition in tackling the root causes of family poverty by investing in lone parents and making work pay. We will also voice our 10 Solutions – ten practical solutions that Government could implement at no or low-cost yet which would result in real progression for one-parent families – which form the basis of our Pre-Budget Submission.”

Simple actions will deliver investment in one-parent families:

  1. Reform the Income Disregard into a Tax credit paid into the pay packet,
  2. Deliver free part-time education,
  3. Invest in the economic benefits of Out of School Childcare and Recreations (OSCAR).

One Family is hearing from lone parents to its askonefamily helpline and through our monthly surveys and Facebook page that these changes will make it almost impossible for many of those who are already working to sustain their employment. The reality is that these changes could mean an increase of over 55,000 more people onto the live register over the next 3 years as lone parents are transitioned to Job Seekers Allowance without adequate Government supports such as the long-promised affordable, local, quality childcare. Recipients of the OFP are excluded from schemes like Jobs Plus so there is, in effect, also a disincentive in place for employers to employ them.

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission can be read here: http://www.onefamily.ie/wp-content/uploads/One-Family-2015-Pre-Budget-Submission_June-2014.pdf

More information about One Family’s 10 Solutions can be read here: http://www.onefamily.ie/policy-campaigns/one-family-campaigns/ten-solutions-for-smarter-futures/

Parents affected by the changes can contact askonefamily lo-call helpline for advice and support on 1890 66 22 12 or by emailing support@onefamily.ie

/Ends.

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 and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

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

 

 

One Family attends pre-budget workshop today, our key messages tracked

One Family and the National One Parent Network attended the pre-budget workshop today – a much better interactive approach than previous years. One Family’s key messages and all of our ten solutions in our campaign 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures can be tracked in the Minister’s Department’s thinking about Budget 2014.

Work must pay; therefore in-work supports for those parenting alone must be delivered including:

  • the reform of FIS;
  • affordable, accessible and quality childcare;
  • tailored supports for families so that the most disadvantaged are supported;
  • outcome-based budgets which enforce departments to deliver joined-up thinking for the whole of Government prioritised. That helps to make public resources last, and aids decision makers in prioritising public and social investments that align with the services and supports that people, families and communities have told Government they need to achieve economic independence.

The Department of Social Protection’s budget is a key mechanism in delivering social investment.  Our recommendations are aimed at ensuring that better supports are provided for families. Helping people to better participate in and benefit from inclusion in the economy and community will both encourage economic activity over the short term and provide a strong foundation for longer-term economic growth.

One Family looks forward to working with the government and other stakeholders in this transformation of Ireland’s antiquated social assistance system. As the transformation begins, it is crucial that existing programmes and allowances be kept in place. New supports and programmes must be fully implemented before cuts or reductions in current benefits are made. Incomes for people on social assistance are so marginal that every Euro counts, and every Euro is spent in the local economy which contributes to sustained local economic development.

Report on Child and Family Income Support published

The Report on Child and Family Income Support by the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare was published yesterday and has caused considerable concern for parents across Ireland. The report, however, is an advisory report submitted to Government for consideration; Government has not agreed it. No decisions have been made on this and no timeline or plan on operationalisation has been put in place.

One Family will continue to advocate that Family Income Supplement (FIS) be changed from a ‘threshold’ benefit to one that tapers. Thresholds create poverty traps which are discriminatory and should be moved away from as part of a progressive social protection framework.

It was stated yesterday at the report launch that the computer systems of the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Revenue ‘talk to each other’ now and that they can identify 87% of claimants. This would make paying FIS as a taper and through the wage packet a good and efficient option.

Included in our pre-budget submission for 2012 was our recommendation to restructure Child Benefit to ensure that it is tailored to those most in need.

Click here to read the press release issued at the launch of the report, and here to download the report.

Below are links to some of the media coverage in response to the report:

The Irish Times | ‘No decision’ made on child benefit

Irish Examiner | Burton wants social welfare system that encourages people to work

TheJournal.ie | It’s easy for ministers on high salaries to ignore the importance of child benefit

The Irish Times |  Prospect emerges of cutting child poverty while saving public funds