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Minister Burton announces progressive scheme to help lone parents return to work

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, has today (21 May 2013) published details of a progressive new scheme to assist lone parents on the pathway back to work.


Jobseeker’s Transition is designed to allow former recipients of One-Parent Family Payment (OFP), whose youngest child is under 14 years of age, to receive the full support of the Department’s activation services to help them return to work, training or education, while recognising the particular difficulties they face, such as childcare and long-term absence from the labour market.


The key element of Jobseeker’s Transition is that recipients will be able to seek work on a part-time rather than a full-time basis if this is better suited to their family requirements.  They will also be able to access existing childcare supports to enable them to engage in education and training programmes.


Minister Burton said: “Research demonstrates that paid work is the best way out of poverty and social exclusion, and it is crucial that lone parents are helped in a compassionate, supportive and effective way to return to work in a manner that best suits their family circumstances. This is what Jobseeker’s Transition is designed to do.” 


The scheme will be introduced as part of a wider series of social welfare measures in the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013, which will be published tomorrow and go before the Oireachtas next month.


Under reforms announced in Budget 2012, the age threshold of the youngest child for a parent to qualify for One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is being reduced on a phased basis to 7 years of age between July 2013 and July 2015. These reforms are aimed supporting former OFP recipients back into work and financial independence, and to prevent long-term dependency on welfare.


Jobseeker’s Transition will be a targeted version of the Jobseeker’s Allowance scheme, providing means-tested financial assistance to jobseekers who are unemployed and looking for work.


Under Jobseeker’s Transition, former OFP recipients will be required to fully engage with the Department’s activation process.


As part of this process they will be profiled, participate in group engagement sessions, and will develop a personal development plan in conjunction with their case officer. This personal plan will identify suitable education, training and employment programmes that will enhance their skill sets and make them more job-ready. Recipients who do not engage in the activation process will be subject to the same penalty rates and disallowances as every other jobseeker.


However, recipients of Jobseeker’s Transition will be exempted for a transitional period from the full conditionality of the Jobseeker’s Allowance scheme, specifically the criteria that jobseekers must be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work.


This will allow former OFP recipients to seek part-time work rather than full-time work if this better suits their family circumstances. The transitional period will run until their youngest child reaches 14 years of age.


Minister Burton said: “Seeking full-time work is not a reality for some lone parents, who, until their child is older, will only be able to work part-time. It is also the case that some lone parents are much more distant from the labour market because they may not have been in a position to complete their education or work for extensive periods. Under this scheme, lone parents will get the full support of the Department’s activation services to help them on the pathway back to work, but in a manner that recognises the reality of their circumstances.”