Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (806)

Bríd Smith


806. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated amount it would cost to allow those on jobseeker's transition to receive both the jobseeker's transition payment and the working family payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29759/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department provides a number of options for income support to lone parents once their entitlement to the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) ceases.  These include the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST) payment where the youngest child is aged 7-13 years (inclusive), and the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) payment which may be paid to lone parents where the youngest child is aged 14 or over.  The Working Family Payment (WFP), is also available to lone parents in receipt of OFP who are working 19 or more hours per week.  Lone parents who move from JST to WFP by increasing their working hours to 19+ per week may also apply for the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD).

The concurrent payment of JST and WFP contradicts the policy goals of the changes to the OFP scheme, which are to tackle long-term social welfare dependency - and its associated poverty risks - through a tapering of income supports and a more active engagement process offering enhanced educational, training and employment supports.  Concurrent payment of JST and WFP may also introduce a steep financial "cliff" for lone parents when their youngest child reaches 14 years of age and they potentially move to Jobseeker’s Allowance.   

It would be very difficult to estimate the cost of such a proposal with any accuracy as the Department would have to consider the potential inflows into WFP where JST lone parents increase their working hours to 19 per week or more in order to qualify for both payments, and also the numbers of lone parents already on WFP that would become eligible for receipt of JST as well. Lone parents on WFP and in receipt of BTWFD would lose their BTWFD if they recommenced receiving JST along with their WFP.