Expenditure on the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) scheme is estimated to be €607 million in 2015 with almost 70,000 recipients. However, despite considerable investment, the scheme has not succeeded in preventing lone parents from being significantly more at risk of consistent poverty than the population as a whole.
In 2004, at the height of the economic boom, lone parents were more than four and a half times at risk of consistent poverty than the population as a whole. Before the reforms to the scheme, lone parents could have been on the scheme until their youngest child turned 18, or 22 if they were in full-time education.
This is why I believe that the reforms I have introduced are much needed as they are moving us away from providing passive income support over a long period towards an active, engagement approach.
The reforms seek to address the long-term social welfare dependency and poverty experienced by many lone parents by providing them with improved access to the Department’s range of education, training, and employment supports. Access to these services and supports is imperative for lone parents, in order to ensure that their prospects of securing employment and financial independence are improved.
Any reversal of these reforms would delay this critical interaction between lone parents and the Department’s Intreo services and would potentially increase the barriers they face to entering employment in the future.
I therefore have no plans to reverse the forthcoming changes to the one parent family payment.