I note the report referred to by the Deputy.
The policy goal of the changes to the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) scheme were 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 for lone parents via the Department’s Intreo service.
Budget 2019 raised the weekly rates of payment for working age schemes and also increased the income disregard for one-parent family payment and jobseeker’s transition payment recipients to €150 per week with effect from 25/03/19 (the highest disregard level to date). The weekly rates of the IQC in 2019 will also increase: by €2.20 per week (from €31.80 to €34) for children under 12; and by €5.20 per week (from €31.80 to €37) for children 12 and over. This measure will benefit over 370,000 children and will help to tackle child poverty.
With regard to increases introduced in Budget 2019 alone, for example, a lone parent working 15 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage is now better off by almost €1,000 per year.
The Department’s social impact assessments of Budgets 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are an indicator of the improvements over that time for lone parents. These show a cumulative increase of €43.75 in the average weekly household income of employed lone parents (and €45.00 for unemployed lone parents). This compares favourably with a weekly increase of €39.25 for the average household.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is in the final stages of drafting the new Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy which will assemble in one place the range of policy measures across government departments that are designed to address the different aspects of poverty and social exclusion. It is intended that it will include targeted actions to improve supports that allow lone parents to take up education, training and employment opportunities. The new strategy will include a programme of work to identify the actions and services that have the most significant impact on reducing poverty and deprivation for different groups, including children.