Wednesday, 13 December 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
193. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he has issued instructions to the effect that mothers in receipt of social welfare payment should return to the work force as a priority and notwithstanding other circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30063/00]
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The back to work  scheme was introduced in 1993 with the aim of encouraging long-term unemployed and lone parents to take up employment. The scheme provides a financial incentive to lone-parents and long-term unemployed persons to return to the active labour force. Participation in the scheme is voluntary and no compulsion is brought to bear on mothers or other social welfare recipients to engage in it. I have not issued any instructions that mothers on social welfare payments should return to work.
Many mothers have been helped to return to the labour force under the back to work scheme. For example, there are just under 1,000 mothers currently in receipt of the back to work allowance who were formerly recipients of the one-parent family payment.
The back to work allowance has enabled this group of mothers to voluntarily return to the workforce while retaining the financial cushion of a portion of their previous social welfare payment. Many of those who came to the Scheme from the Live Register are also mothers.
In Budget 2001 provision has been made for the development of a new programme which will provide an integrated guidance, mediation, counselling and referral service to lone parents. The objective will be to get the person “job ready” for either employment or self-employment. I am confident that many lone parents will avail of this opportunity.
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