Written answers

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Benefits

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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129. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to reduce deprivation among lone parent families given the increase in deprivation found in the latest EU survey on income and living conditions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24513/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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I am very conscious of the high levels of poverty and deprivation experienced by lone parent families and that is why Budget 2022 included a number of measures of benefit to lone parents in receipt of a social welfare payment such as One-Parent Family Payment or Jobseeker's Transitional Payment.

In the Budget I provided for a €5 per week increase in social welfare payment rates. In addition, I provided for the rate of Increase for a Qualified Child to increase by €2 to €40 per week in respect of a qualified child under age 12 and by €3 to €48 per week in respect of a qualified child aged 12 or over.

Last year, I removed the earnings limit attached to the One-Parent Family Payment. This means that recipients of that payment no longer face a cliff-edge when their earnings reach €425 per week but rather the payment tapers off as their earnings increase

Working Family Payment is a payment for people whose earnings from employment are low and who have children. Approximately half of the recipients of that payment are lone parents. Budget 2022 provided for a €10 weekly increase in the Working Family Payment income limits for families of all sizes. This came into effect last month.

I also increased the level of the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance by €10 to €160 for each child aged 4 to 11 years and to €285 for each child aged 12 and over. In recognition of the particular challenges faced by lone parents, I equalised the income limits for one and two parent households, making it easier for lone parents to qualify for this payment.

The Government recognised the challenges of rising prices last October in Budget 2022 and brought in a package of tax and social welfare measures worth over €1 billion. The Government also agreed a further package of €505 million, including the €200 energy credit and a lump sum payment of €125 for those in receipt of the fuel allowance. In March the Government brought in a further tax measure, to immediately reduce the cost of fuels for families and businesses.

I am pleased that the SILC data show the positive impact that Covid supports have had. The "at risk of poverty" rate was 11.6 per cent in 2021, having reduced from 13.2 per cent in 2020. The data show that without the Covid supports that the Government put in place this would have been 19.9 per cent.

It is clear that we must continue to work to reduce poverty and deprivation and the Government will continue to build on the positive measures already introduced in that regard.


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