Joan Burton’s policy may be making lone parents poorer

Unesco resport says a change introduced in 2012 could encourage welfare dependency

Joan Burton: The Unesco report  says any unintended consequences of trapping  families in greater poverty should be rectified.  Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin.

Joan Burton: The Unesco report says any unintended consequences of trapping families in greater poverty should be rectified. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin.

 
Joan Burton

The report, from the Unesco Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, says the controversial change introduced in 2012 could be having a “perverse effect of encouraging welfare dependency and reducing household income”. It says any “unintended consequences of this policy” of trapping these families in greater poverty “should be rectified to ensure being in work leads these families to being better off”.

The report, Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why, includes a review of international experience of activating lone parents – helping them get back to work – as well as interviews with stakeholders, such as lone-parent groups.

Transitional payment

Many lone parents, particularly those who had been working part-time and earning less than €90 per week – the amount a parent could earn without their one-parent payment being affected – say their income has fallen as a result of moving to Jobseeker’s Allowance. Groups say childcare is too expensive and inadequate to allow many to seek work, while no account is taken of difficulties of parents of disabled children, those in rural areas without transport or those with little education.