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.

Policy | Update from the Policy Desk

Valerie Maher, our Policy & Programmes Manager, writes about some of our recent policy work.

The Policy Service has been very busy over the summer. We attended the Social Inclusion Forum in June with a member of our volunteer Policy Panel who is parenting alone. The Forum encourages discussion on social inclusion issues between officials from Government Departments, Community and Voluntary Organisations and people experiencing poverty. In July, we developed our Pre-Budget Submission and attended the Pre-Budget Forum hosted by the Department of Social Protection.This year our submission is focussed on in-work supports, childcare, housing, child poverty, reforming our family law system and access to education.

One Family sits on the National Advisory Council on Children and Young People which was set up to ensure the implementation of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020. From its outset, the Advisory Council identified child poverty as the single biggest concern that impacts on children’s lives. In October 2015, a child poverty subgroup was established comprised of both statutory and non-governmental (NGO) representatives, including One Family. In July this year we officially launched a document on child poverty that puts forward real solutions that can help Government to meet their commitment to lift over 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020 and we issued this press release. You can read more about the work of the Advisory Council in its latest ezine update.

This month, part of the Affordable Childcare Scheme commences. One Family has met with officials in the Department of Children & Youth Affairs (DCYA) to ensure that the new scheme specifically acknowledges the needs of families we work with and represent. We provide information about what childcare supports you may be able to access here, and the Department’s information site is here.

Our askonefamily helpline can also provide information on 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212.

Policy | One Family’s Budget 2018 Recommendations

Ahead of the annual Pre-Budget Forum taking place today, One Family joined with Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, National Youth Council of Ireland and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to call on Government to ensure Budget 2018 includes key provisions to tackle child poverty as we are deeply concerned that one in nine children in Ireland remain in consistent poverty. We believe not enough is being done to remedy this. You can read our jointly issued press release here.

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2018 targets child poverty as, according to SILC (2008-2015), children in one-parent households are almost four times more likely to live in consistent poverty than those in two-parent households. Our Submission also focuses on in-work supports to make work pay. Reforms of the One-Parent family Payment (OFP) have resulted in only marginal increases in employment rates for some one-parent families, a reduction in employment for those children over 12, and higher rates and child poverty and deprivation in these families. The other areas we focus on are:

  • Housing & Homelessness,
  • Access to Education & Training,
  • Early Years, Out-of-School and Afterschool Childcare, and
  • Family Law Courts Reform.

You can read our Pre-Budget Submission 2018, which includes our analysis and recommendations, on this link.





Statement | One Family’s Response to Minister Varadkar’s Statement on Lone Parents and Educational Supports


One Family’s Response to Minister Varadkar’s Statement on Lone Parents and Educational Supports

One Family is disappointed to read Minister Varadkar’s statement of 17 August 2016 in relation to lone parents accessing education.  While the Minister has correctly outlined a number of supports currently available to people parenting alone, the statement fails to recognise some of the major barriers faced by lone parents trying to access education which have recently been discussed in the media.

  • As highlighted in One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission those in receipt of Rent Supplement should be permitted to engage in full-time education. This would remove a number of structural barriers which currently prevent these parents from accessing education. Currently the only option available to those dependent on Rent Supplement is to apply for Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). Ability to stay in education should not be linked to housing tenure.
  • The BTEA and the SUSI maintenance grant should be payable together to lone parents who are undertaking an educational or training course. The current system provides no additional income to meet the costs of childcare, course materials and travel costs.
  • We also recommend that the Department extend Jobseeker’s Transition Payment (JST) to those who are engaging in education, regardless of the age of their youngest child (up to a limit of 18).

We agree with the Minister that inaccurate information is a cause for concern. One Family have continually called for more clarity and information to be made available by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to lone parents who are being transitioned off the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) when their youngest child reaches seven years old. It is imperative that all available options open to parents are explored and explained clearly when a parent is required to change their primary social welfare payment. The OFP reform has been rife with implementation issues and the people suffering from this insufficient planning are lone parents who are already struggling financially and their children. We are aware of a number of cases through our askonefamily helpline where parents have been misinformed as to their entitlements and options.

The DSP have consistently promoted Family Income Supplement (FIS) and the short-term Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) as the best option for lone parents who are working a minimum of nineteen hours when they lose their entitlement to OFP. However, due to the complex nature of our social welfare and educational systems, this may not be the best option for every parent, particularly if they wish to access education at a later stage and require financial supports such as the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) in order to do so. While there may be a temporary financial gain to moving from OFP to FIS and BTWFD, if a lone parent has future intentions to enhance their skills and employability through further education or training, it may be a viable option to remain on JST as this is a qualifying payment for access to BTEA.

The emphasis on work and FIS often forces lone parents to maintain employment in low-wage jobs with unpredictable work to support their families, rather than receiving training or education to obtain higher-paying jobs that could lift them out of poverty in the longer term.

Minister Varadkar also outlines the option to work part-time while studying. Given that there are no financial supports available for part-time study at third level, the Minister is effectively suggesting that a lone parent should work part-time while attending full-time education, and also juggling their full-time parenting responsibilities in the absence of affordable childcare to support this option. This statement shows a lack of understanding and awareness of the issues being discussed here.

The suggestion by the Minister that broadening access to BTEA is “wide open to abuse” is in our view a derogatory observation which implies that social welfare recipients are attempting to use social supports in a dishonest fashion; an implication that our clients often tell us they experience in their local social welfare offices. We strongly recommend that the DSP adopt an innovative and supportive stance to removing the barriers impacting the vulnerable families that they aim to support rather than over-focussing on the possibility of fraud. These barriers facing poor families are multidimensional, interconnected and complex. Government actions must take them into account and ensure access to affordable, secure housing and to affordable childcare, and finally address our society’s long history of employment and educational discrimination.

Karen Kiernan

CEO, One Family


Press Release | Lone Parents Thwarted by Systemic Barriers to Accessing Education

Press Release

Lone Parents Thwarted by Systemic Barriers to Accessing Education

Improving access to education and employment for parents will lead to ending child poverty.

(Dublin, Monday 8 August 2016) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – again calls on Government to remove the systemic barriers to education and employment that people parenting alone are thwarted by. Lone parents must be offered an equal chance to progress their and their children’s futures.

Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, have promised to address the serious issue of child poverty which disproportionally affects children living in one-parent families, and committed to lifting 97,000 children out of consistent poverty. It is by supporting parents in one-parent families to access and remain in education and employment that this can be achieved.  Again, One Family calls for Budget 2017 to urgently address these barriers and to acknowledge the realities for those who parent alone.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “For years, we’ve been asking Government, ‘Where’s the education and childcare for lone parents for sustainable jobs?’  Research shows that it is not family form which impacts most on children’s outcomes, but poverty and the education level of parents. Enabling and encouraging access to education, for those parents who clearly wish to increase their qualifications, is where Government could be making a real difference. The main barriers facing a lone parent in accessing or returning to education include the lack of financial supports; that someone’s housing tenure is a factor, as Back To Education Allowance (BTEA) and the SUSI maintenance grant are not payable together so that those in private rented accommodation are at a disadvantage; and that there is no childcare support for those going into third level education.”

Government has committed to commission an independent examination to identify the supports and barriers to accessing higher education for lone parents and to examine measures to increase participation, and One Family will contribute to this report.

Karen continues: “This is an important report, though what we will need to see is action. Government must show that it is resourcing one-parent families rather than penalising them. An unnecessarily complex system contributes to these systemic barriers still being in place. Yet Government stated that reform of the One Parent Family Payment and introduction of the Job Seekers’ Transition were ‘to give lone parents seven years to get into education and then into work.’  Where are the opportunities? Where are the supports? Where are the Out-of -School childcare services to support parents, whatever age their children are?”

One Family reiterates its call to Government to enact the recommendations of its Pre-Budget Submission, with an immediate focus on provision of affordable and accessible quality local childcare.  Every parent should have an equal opportunity to create a better future for his or her children.

Lone parents who would like support on accessing education can call askonefamily on 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212. Lone parents who would like to share their perspective on accessing education which One Family can include in its contribution to the commissioned Government report, can email

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017 can be read/downloaded here.



  • 1 in 8 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland (Census 2011)
  • 5% of one-parent families are headed by a father (Census 2011)
  • 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)

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 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 ( For further information, visit

Further Information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511
Jane Farrell, Communications & Marketing Officer | t: 01 662 9096 or 087 623 0166


One Family Pre-Budget Submission 2015

“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

The overarching message of our Pre-Budget Submission 2015 is that all people share in Ireland, and we must believe that government has a responsibility to help people develop their strengths and their potential. We must look to long-term programmes to empower our communities, rather than short-term patches.

Last year we called for collaborators to work with One Family on an on-going basis in crafting our pre-budget submission. Subsequently, the One Family Budget Panel was formed in January 2014. The panel consists of twelve parents. It comprises those parenting alone and sharing parenting; parents from each Provence – urban and rural are represented; the age distribution of representation goes from 24 to 55; 60% of the parents are working either part or full-time; 45% of the parents are in education and/or training full or part-time; the gender split is 85% female and 15% male; 65% of the panel’s parents are in receipt of some form of social assistance, either One Parent Family Payment, Family Income Support or Carer’s Allowance.

The panel makes up a representative sample of lone parents across Ireland and its members collaborated with One Family to produce a pre-budget submission which reflects the lived reality for one-parent families in Ireland.

One Family further ensured the inclusion of the voices of lone parents and parents sharing parenting in our Pre-Budget Submission by inserting direct quotes from parents who responded to our monthly surveys and other One Family initiatives. Some of these quotes are included below:

“No one realises how vulnerable a single parent on benefits actually is. The housing and childcare are the two biggest practical issues I faced, along with stigma and isolation and loneliness and all the rest of it…when you cannot find a roof over your head it really hurts, it affects your mental health also.” 

“For all the talk and publicity about anti-discrimination, there are many instances of legalised discrimination against lone parents in this country. Even if childcare was available, One Parent Family recipients cannot avail of employment where the employer is receiving Revenue Job Assist or JobsPlus schemes.”

“I believe my child deserves the same rights and to be treated with the same dignity as any child of a two parent family. What prevents this from happening is lack of adequate and affordable childcare.”

 “I feel as I have been discriminated against by Revenue and the Government on these tax credit changes based on the fact that I am a dad and not the recipient of the children’s allowance. This has affected my net income, which is no more than the average industrial wage, by reducing it by €47 per week. This is crippling my ability to survive and meet my financial commitments and most importantly my ability to do the things I have endeavoured to do with my children.”

“I have a mortgage but since the breakdown of my marriage I am in significant arrears. Other party not engaging. I am struggling to keep a roof over my daughters head. No mortgage supports available to me.”

“We are caught in positions that revolve around our child care hours and location. It is extraordinarily difficult to further our careers as generally promotion equals more hours, and/or additional training which is impossible when you have to race back before the crèche closes.”

“It’s the feeling of being trapped by your circumstance, of knowing that you’ll never get out of it, that causes the low feelings and of feeling like a failure as a mother towards your child. It’s the fact that it’s not a temporary situation that causes these feelings for me. And it seems to be so hard for other people to understand, and makes it all the more difficult to handle, causing further isolation, maybe secrecy of the situation, bringing only further feelings of inadequacy.”

“What we need now, both lone mothers and fathers, is for policy makers to recognise the difficulties we face in parenting alone. We’re not looking for favours, just equal opportunities to provide for our kids to the best of our abilities.”

If you wish to read/download One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2015, it is available here: One Family 2015 Pre-Budget Submission_June 2014.