Written answers

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Working Family Payment Eligibility

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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326. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of reducing the hours required to qualify for the working family payment from 19 to 15 hours for lone parents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44088/19]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work support which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings with children.  WFP is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependants and to offer a financial incentive to take-up employment.  Expenditure on WFP in 2018 was approximately €430 million and it is currently paid to almost 53,000 families in respect of some 119,000 children.

To qualify for WFP, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week.  A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria.  The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them.  Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

For low income workers who work fewer than 19 hours per week and work on a casual basis (that is, up to and including 3 days per week) the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) scheme provides in-work income support through daily disregards and tapered withdrawal of payments.   

Apart from the Jobseeker schemes if a person cannot meet the 19 hours WFP threshold or if their hours vary significantly from week to week, the Department offers a number of other schemes which can provide income support that can be combined with earnings from employment, subject to each individual’s circumstances.  These include One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST), and the Part-Time Job Incentive (PTJI) scheme.  It is possible to be in receipt of OFP and WFP at the same time.

I believe that the current range of supports available to families, including WFP, works very well for the vast majority of families and facilitates an element of choice which allows them to select the option which best suits their needs.

I am advised that the number of families working between 15-18 hours and are earning below the relevant WFP thresholds is not currently captured in existing data sources which means it is not possible to estimate a full year cost of reducing the hours.


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