This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Findings are published today from a qualitative evaluation of In Work Credit (IWC). The evaluation covers both the delivery arrangements for the national roll-out of IWC and an investigation of the role of IWC in incentivising and retaining lone parents in work. The study is based on interviews with Jobcentre Plus staff and in-depth work both with lone parents who had claimed for the full 52 weeks and also lone parents with incomplete claims.
Findings from the report show that:
Generally, the role of IWC in encouraging lone parents into work and in retaining them in work was found to be limited (consistent with early findings of a significant, but relatively minor impact). However, those who were longer-term benefit claimants were more reliant on the payments and IWC made part-time work more financially viable for them.
Finding part-time work which fitted around their childcare commitments and children’s school hours was seen as being more important than the type of job. Childcare was used only where necessary and informal childcare arrangements with family or friends were preferred.
The importance of IWC was found to be in the reliable weekly payments structure which acts as a safety net when adjusting to new budgeting arrangements on a wage-based income.
Reducing the duration of payments to 6 months instead of 12 would have been acceptable to most lone parents. It was felt that this would help to reduce the likelihood of becoming dependent on the payments. Those who had been out of work for longer and/or had debt problems were more likely to want the payments to continue for 12 months or longer.
Incomplete claims were either due to difficulties in balancing work and family responsibilities, or because working hours fell below 16 or they were made redundant. Those who lost their job were usually keen to get back to work; those with family issues were more uncertain.
The delivery arrangements for IWC since it has been rolled out nationally in 2008 have worked well.
The findings are based on qualitative research with Jobcentre Plus staff and with lone parents. The research comprised:
three focus groups with Jobcentre Plus staff;
semi-structured interviews with a total of 126 lone parents in 4 case study areas, 59 of these in the national roll-out (Implementation) study and 67 in the Retention study;
the Retention study was conducted in 2 waves around 6 months apart. Interviews were divided into completers (42) and non-completers (25). Completers are those who have claimed IWC for the maximum 52 weeks, whilst non-completers are those whose claim lasted for less than 52 weeks.
This research is one of a number of studies that are examining the package of support available to workless lone parents to enable them to find, enter and sustain paid employment. It sits alongside and is part of a comprehensive programme of research to assess the effects of Lone Parent Obligations (LPO).
Also published today in the DWP Research Report series is ‘Can altering the structure of financial support payments aid work retention amongst lone parents?: Qualitative evaluation of the In Work Retention Pilot’ by Kathryn Ray, Christine Bertram, Rosemary Davidson and Lucia Durante, (RR708). This research examines the implications for a variation in the structure of IWC payments alongside additional support for retention and advancement in work.
In Work Credit was rolled out nationally to all Jobcentre Plus districts in April 2008. It is a non-taxable weekly payment of £40 (£60 in London districts). It is paid for a maximum of 52 weeks to lone parents moving into paid employment of 16 hours a week or more who have a had a period of 12 months or more on out-of-work benefits.