I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 104 together.
The one-parent family payment (OFP) scheme has played an important role in providing income support to lone parents since its introduction in 1997. The number of OFP recipients stood at 77,209 in May, 2014, and an estimated €863 million is expected to be spent on the scheme during 2013.
The Social Welfare and Pensions Act, 2012, contains provisions to reduce, on a phased basis, the maximum age limit of the youngest child at which an OFP recipient’s payment ceases to 7 years from 2014 for new entrants and from 2015 for existing recipients.
The next phase of the OFP scheme reform process will commence on 3 July, 2014, when approximately 5,140 customers will see their entitlement to the OFP payment cease as a result of their youngest child reaching the maximum age threshold.
Approximately 850 of these affected OFP customers are also claiming the family income supplement (FIS) by virtue of being in employment for 19 or more hours per week. These customers will have their FIS payment automatically adjusted to compensate for some 60% of the loss of their OFP payment.
It is expected that approximately 3,600 affected OFP customers may apply for the jobseeker’s allowance (JA) payment. Of these customers, approximately 70% are not working and, as such, will not suffer any reduction in their new income support payment as the JA payment pays the same personal and qualified child rates as OFP.
Of those affected OFP customers who are working, they will be advised by the Department if they a working a minimum of 19 hours per week, or if they could increase their hours to that level, to apply for the FIS payment as this is the most financially beneficial income support for former OFP recipients.