Thousands of single parents who work are to benefit from increases in social welfare payments, it emerged today.
Substantial changes have been made to the One Parent Family Payment with the upper earnings income threshold extended by €82 a week bringing thousands more into the net from June 1.
Minister for Social Affairs Seamus Brennan revealed at least 3,000 new families would now become eligible.
“I want to give lone parents an opportunity to continue to increase their earnings without raising their fears about losing their entitlement to payment, which I know from speaking to many lone parents, represents their financial security,” he said.
The increase, which was agreed as part of Budget 2006, came into effect from June 1 and lifts the weekly earnings threshold for lone parents to €375.
It is estimated 60% of lone parents claiming the benefit are working and the significantly increased income limit will allow many of them to earn more while retaining welfare.
It is expected to cost €5m in 2006 and €10m in a full year.
Mr Brennan pointed out that lone parents working over 19 hours per week can also claim Family Income Supplement to boost their income.
And the Department of Social and Family Affairs now pays maternity benefit for a period of 22 weeks – an increase of four extra weeks this year – which will be increased to 26 weeks in 2007.