The one-parent family payment (OFP) means test currently allows for an income disregard of €90 per week with the balance of any income assessed at 50%. The jobseeker’s transitional payment (JST) allows for an income disregard of €20 per day for a maximum of 3 days resulting in a maximum disregard of €60 per week, with the balance of any income assessed at 60%. This measure aligns the JST means test more closely with the OFP means test by increasing the JST earnings disregard from €60 to €90 per week, and assessing the balance of any income at 50% instead of 60%. It also alters the basis for the calculation of means on JST changing it from a day’s basis (i.e. maximum disregard of €20 per day) to one where the entire disregard applies irrespective of how many days the JST recipient works (as is the case on OFP). This results in a more favourable means test for JST recipients who are working less than 3 days per week.
The current policy approach on the OFP scheme is to provide tapered income supports to lone parents as their children get older while at the same time increasing our engagement with them from an activation perspective. The key initiative to achieve this is the jobseeker’s transitional payment. The jobseeker’s transitional payment (JST) was introduced in 2013 order to support lone parents who have a youngest child aged 7 to 13 years inclusive, while they continue to be a lone parent. These customers are exempt from the jobseeker’s allowance (JA) conditions that require them to be available for, and genuinely seeking, full-time work. As such, no lone parent with a youngest child aged under 14 years is required to take up employment in order to receive income support from the Department. They can also move into education and/or employment, including into part-time employment, if they so wish, and still receive payment, subject to a means test. As such, JST allows these customers to balance their work and caring responsibilities while also supporting them to move towards sustainable employment as their children get older.
One of the conditions for receipt of JST is a requirement to engage with the Department’s Intreo services to produce a personal development plan with an Intreo Case Officer. This gives lone parents access to the necessary educational and employment supports to enable them to become job-ready and/or to find employment. The support from the case officer can also extend beyond the normal timeframe of one year from the first engagement that is currently provided to other jobseekers. This measure to align the OFP and JST means tests more closely further builds on this tapered approach as it results in the provision of increased financial support to lone parents with a youngest child up to 14 years of age, while also providing them with activation supports when their youngest child is aged 7 to 13 years inclusive. The resultant combination of financial and activation supports for up to 7 years for lone parents directly responds to some of the existing barriers for lone parents to reach sustainable employment, thereby fully supporting them to achieve financial independence as their children get older.
The measure positively impacts on approximately 5,900 JST recipients who are in currently in employment and are earning more than €60 per week. It will also positively impact on JST customers who are working less than 3 days per week as they will now get the benefit of the full €90 disregard rather than a maximum of €20 per day. The majority of individuals who will benefit made the transition from OFP to JST in July 2015 and suffered an income loss as a result of the less generous JA means test applying. These individuals will now all gain on foot of the implementation of an improved JST means test. For example a JST recipient earning €100 per week over 3 days or more, with one child will see an increase of €19 per week in their overall income as a result of the increase in the disregard and the calculation of means at 50% rather than 60%. A JST recipient with one child earning €60 over 1 day will also see an increase in their earnings of €24 per week as a result of the change from a days based to week based calculation i.e. this individual now gets the benefit of the full €90 disregard rather than €20 for one day.
In order to qualify for JST you must meet the normal conditions for JA with the following exemptions: You do not have to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work, You can take part in a course of education and get JST (and, if eligible a student maintenance grant). You do not have to be fully unemployed for 4 out of 7 days.
In addition you must meet the conditions for OFP except the age of the youngest child condition i.e. you must be a lone parent with a youngest child aged 7 to 13 years inclusive. You cannot cohabit with another person while you are getting JST i.e. you must continue to be a lone parent.