On the 12 May 2011 we published a survey of over 2,500 lone parents currently claiming Income Support. Those surveyed will find their eligibility for that benefit will end when their youngest child turns seven. The research focuses on the circumstances of lone parents affected by Lone Parent Obligations (LPO) to determine their work-readiness and likely requirements in terms of future labour market support. Data was collected on past employment, physical and mental health and wider caring responsibilities as well as lone parents’ own perceived barriers to work and views on childcare and combining work with parenting. The report shows that:
Even when lone parents have a youngest child of the same age they display considerable diversity in terms of health, finances and qualifications and so vary greatly with regard to work-readiness.
Despite this, the lone parents in this survey expressed a very strong orientation towards work. The majority (78 per cent) reported that they want to work and 69 per cent thought they would work in the next few years, so supporting the overall thrust of LPO.
However, many had not worked for a considerable period of time: 28 per cent had not worked since they became a parent (at least six years previously), and a further one in four (24 per cent) had never worked.
The majority of these lone parents who were still several months away from leaving IS said that, overall, the advice they had received from Jobcentre Plus in the previous 12 months had been helpful (83 per cent). However, 27 per cent did not think that their individual circumstances had been taken into account in the advice they had received from Jobcentre Plus.
Notes to Editors:
Research design and fieldwork were undertaken by the National Centre for Social Research and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion. The report authors are Nick Coleman and Lorraine Lanceley.
Survey findings are based on interviews with a nationally representative sample of 2779 lone parents. Respondents were interviewed four to eight months before their eligibility for Income Support ends when their youngest child reaches seven. Fieldwork was conducted between May and August 2010
This survey forms part a comprehensive programme of evaluation, using a mixed methods approach, to assess the effects of LPO. This includes in-depth interviews with Jobcentre Plus customers and staff, a large-scale survey of customers, as well as analysis of in-house and other data sources. The evaluation is being carried out by a consortium of independent research organisations, led by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion.
There are plans to re-interview the same lone parents once more to measure their outcomes after moving onto Jobseeker’s Allowance and experience of the move from IS to JSA.
Recently published reports from the evaluation include:
Lone Parent Obligations: A review of recent evidence on the work-related requirements within the benefit systems of different countries, DWP RR 632, 2010.
Lone Parent Obligations: early findings of implementation as well as experiences of the Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance regimes, DWP RR 645, 2010
Lone parents and employment: an exploration of findings form the families and Children Study 2006-8, DWP WP 93, 2010
Supporting lone parents’ journey off benefits and into work: a qualitative evaluation of the role of In Work Credit, DWP RR 712, 2010
LPO was introduced in November 2008 within GB and Northern Ireland. This required lone parents, who were claiming benefit solely as a lone parent, to look for work as a condition of benefit receipt, if their youngest child was aged 12 or over. This age reduced to 10 in October 2009 and 7 in October 2010. These obligations were further extended by the new coalition government so that in 2012 lone parents will lose their eligibility for Income Support when their youngest child reaches 5.