Findings are published today from the evaluation of Lone Parent Obligations (LPO). ‘Lone Parent Obligations: work, childcare and the Jobseeker’s Allowance regime’ is based on in-depth interviews with lone parents who made a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance when their youngest child was seven.
Findings from the report show that:
The lone parents in this study were generally very positive about work and the benefits that it would bring them and their families. Lone parents felt positive about work for both financial and non-financial reasons.
The work readiness of lone parents depended on whether they had a ‘strong work attachment’, a ‘high parenting orientation’ or had experienced a ‘critical life event’. Some in this latter group were the least work ready.
Across the different groups of lone parents on JSA there was a strong dislike of claiming JSA. Negative attitudes to claiming JSA meant that JSA often gave lone parents a ‘push’ towards work. JSA seemed to have the greatest effect on attitudes to work for those with a high parenting orientation. Claiming JSA often gave these lone parents a direct push to look for work because they had to do so as part of the JSA regime.
For lone parents who had a strong work attachment, their often recent work experience and high work orientation meant that they generally felt that being on JSA had no effect on their attitude to work. Those lone parents who had experienced a critical life event were more varied in their opinions of whether JSA had affected their attitudes to work.
The reluctance to use formal childcare was less strongly reported by this group of lone parents compared with lone parents with older children in previous evaluations of LPO. This appears to be because of positive experiences of free early years education. These families also reported positive experience or attitudes towards breakfast and after-school clubs.
A small group of lone parents had moved into work of 16 hours or more per week at the time of interview. It was common for these to be low-skilled and low-paid positions. Generally, the lone parents were working part-time, often within school hours.
The findings are based on qualitative fieldwork in three case study areas. Interviews were completed in June and July 2011 with 60 lone parents who made a claim for JSA when their youngest child was aged seven. A small number of lone parents had slightly older children. These lone parents were included in order to ensure that sufficient interviews were carried out with lone parents who had experienced a sanction or disentitlement. The interviews explored issues such as work readiness, childcare, claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, looking for work and any experience of moving into work.
There is an extensive programme of evaluation research, using a mixed methods approach, to assess the effects of Lone Parent Obligations (LPO). Earlier reports from the evaluation are available on the Department’s website.
LPO was introduced in November 2008. Since then, based on the age of their youngest child, some lone parents have lost entitlement to Income Support solely on the grounds of being a lone parent. From October 2010, the age of the youngest child was lowered to seven and over.