All lone parents on a jobseeker’s allowance or jobseeker’s transitional payment currently gain improved access to activation supports.
Jobseeker’s transitional payment recipients now receive, for the first time, a one to one meeting with a case officer from the Department who will assist them to produce a personal development plan and guide them towards appropriate education, training and employment opportunities. While the customer is on the jobseeker’s transitional payment this support is available and is not limited to the 12 month engagement that applies for other jobseekers from their one to one meeting.
Through the jobseeker’s transitional payment, lone parents with children aged between 7 and 13 years are provided with a very long transition period of up to seven years within which to engage with the Department’s Intreo service. The aim of this broader support is to improve the individual’s employment prospects.
Former one-parent family payment recipients who moved to a jobseeker’s allowance payment i.e. those with a youngest child 14 year of age or older, are subject to the standard Intreo activation process. Former one-parent family payment recipients who are not working and are on a jobseeker’s allowance payment will be invited to group engagement with a case officer followed by access to further supports in the same manner as all other jobseekers.
A new Activation Case Management system has recently been implemented across the Department’s network of Intreo Centres. It provides a sophisticated tool to the Department’s case officers that supports the full activation process, includes intelligence gathering to inform policy and a suite of reports that allows the Department to analyse progression outcomes for our customers including the ability to track training referrals. The system also records potential barriers to employment such as access to childcare, health issues etc. with a view to addressing these issues with the customer. Most importantly for the one-parent family payment reforms, the new system includes processes for the activation of lone parents who are now jobseekers and allows the Department to identify and monitor these customers as a ring-fenced group, while treating each customer as an individual from an activation perspective. Access to this more detailed information will inform any future developments of effective activation measures for lone parents that are required.
The Department has also taken steps to include details of periods spent on jobseeker’s transitional payment in the Jobseekers Longitudinal Database. This will include information (where available) on jobseeker’s transitional payment leavers’ entry to activation programmes, education/training, and employment. It will therefore be possible, over time, to report on trends in the destination of jobseeker’s transitional payment leavers.
The first indication of the outcome of the reforms has already been seen in the number of former OFP recipients who have become new FIS recipients. Since the final phase of the reforms took place in July 2015 up to the end of December 2015, approximately 3,000 affected lone parents have become new family income supplement recipients. This indicates that these customers entered or increased their employment as a result of the reforms. These new recipients are also eligible for the back to work family dividend and gain an increase in their overall income when they transition from the one-parent family payment to the family income supplement and the back to work family dividend.