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Minister for Social Protection, Éamon Ó Cuív TD introduced the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010 in the Dáil yesterday, June 16.

Prior to outlining the main provisions in the Bill, the Minister said: “Continuing to reflect the trend of recent years and reaffirming the Government’s commitment to the welfare of all those in need of support, €20.9bn will be spent by Government in 2010 on social welfare provision – €500m or 2.45 per cent more than 2009. One of the priorities I have been given in my Department is to place a particular focus on job activation. The new Department brings a joined-up approach to looking at job activation in its wider context with income support.”

Jobseeker’s Allowance

The Bill contains many technical amendments to existing social welfare legislation. It includes a specific disqualification for receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance where the person refuses an offer of suitable employment and a reduced rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Supplementary Welfare Allowance for claimants who refuse to participate in an appropriate course of training or to participate in a programme under the National Employment Action Plan.

One-Parent Family Payment

Phased changes to the Department’s One-Parent Family Payment are also provided for in recognition that “the current arrangements, whereby a lone parent can receive the One-Parent Family Payment until their child is 18, or 22 if in full-time education, without any requirement for them to engage in employment, education or training, are not in the best interests of the parent, their children or society.  Despite significant state spending in this area, the results have been poor in terms of tackling poverty with the child of a lone parent being four times more likely to be in consistent poverty than the population overall.”

It is proposed that for new customers, from April 2011, the One-Parent Family Payment will be made until the youngest child reaches age 13 years. There will be a six year tapered phasing out period for existing customers with the age 13 cut off point coming in to effect for them in 2016. However, if a child is in full time education the payment will continue until the end of the 2012-2013 academic year or until the child reaches age 22 – whichever is the earlier.

Under the reformed scheme there will also be special provisions for families with children for whom Domiciliary Care Allowance is paid as well as for both married and cohabiting persons who are recently bere