I discussed the reforms to the one parent-family payment with the select committee on Committee Stage of the Social Welfare Bill last week, as the Deputy mentioned.
We are still at an early stage of the implementation of the reforms to the one-parent family payment. It will take several years before the full impact of the reforms can be assessed. This is because many lone parents, on foot of the changes, are taking up education, training or employment-support programmes, which will take time for them to complete and move into the workforce.
However, I listened carefully to the issues raised by the Deputy and other members of the select committee as part of last week's debate. I agreed that I would commission a report on the changes to the one-parent family payment. I will be introducing an amendment on Report Stage this week to that effect, writing it into the legislation as Deputies requested. The report will examine the financial and societal effects of the changes taking into account poverty rates and welfare dependency of those impacted by the reforms.
Dr. Millar's report is on activation measures for lone parents and does not purport to be an analysis of the lone parent reforms.
Given the title, it was my Department's expectation that the report would provide detail on the design of specific activation programmes that would help lone parents and also help us to develop further activation measures for these customers. That the report does not include such information is a lost opportunity.
The research commenced in January 2015 and, therefore, takes no account of the final phase of the one-parent family payment reforms in July 2015, or improvements targeted at lone parents in the 2016 budget, which resulted in lone parents benefitting more favourably than the average household.
The research commenced in January 2015 and therefore takes no account of the final phase of the one-parent family payment reforms in July 2015, or improvements targeted at lone parents in the 2016 budget which resulted in lone parents benefitting more favourably than the average household. Budget 2017 also includes a number of measures that result in further gains for lone parents, including an increase in the weekly payment, more incentives to enter education and the ability to retain more income that is earned.