Lone parents will start getting the help they need to look for work earlier rather than stay on benefits, Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said today.
Lone parents on Income Support whose child is aged five or over are being informed by letter today that, starting from May 2012, if they are able to work they will need to move from Income Support to Jobseeker’s Allowance where they will receive extra help to return to the workplace. Previously this change has been when their child was aged seven.
There are 1.8m children living in households where no one works and around 600,000 lone parents relying on Income Support. The Government dedicates well over £6 billion per year supporting lone parent families but a child of an out-of-work lone parent is almost three times more likely to be in poverty than those where the lone parent works part-time and five times more likely than those working full-time.
Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said:
We are determined to help more lone parents take their first steps into work, because we know that work is the best route out of poverty. That is why lone parents with younger children will now have additional access to the help and support they need, rather than being trapped on benefits.
Getting a good balance between work and family responsibilities is important for every parent. Jobcentre Plus advisors will actively support lone parents so that they can get that balance right too.
Lone Parent Advisors at Jobcentre Plus will be on hand to give one-to-one advice on the range of support available including training opportunities, childcare, help with job applications and details of part-time or family friendly working in their area.
Under Universal Credit, lone parents will be helped to gradually move into work as they will be able to keep more of the money they earn. Ministers have also announced an extra £300 million for childcare support under Universal Credit which will help around 80,000 more families work the hours they choose and for the first time support parents who want to work under 16 hours a week.
Notes to Editors
- Around 124,000 letters were sent today to lone parents who may be a affected by the changes
- A lone parent on Job Seekers Allowance will not be expected to take up a job if appropriate childcare is not available and their availability for work must take into account their childcare responsibilities.
- Lone parents with children of 12 or under will be able to specify school-hours only jobs without it affecting their benefits.
- Jobseekers Allowance is paid at the same rate as Income Support - (assuming the lone parent is claiming CTC and not receiving child dependencies element of income Support)
- Some lone parents will continue to receive Income Support if:
- They have a child in receipt of the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
- Receive Carer’s Allowance, or;
- Are Fostering.
- Those with a health condition or disability which limits their capability for work will be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
- International evidence indicates that, in the majority of cases, countries with higher lone parent employment rates have lower poverty rates for lone parent households.
- In other countries where active labour measures are in place, eligibility is also often limited to lone parents with a youngest child above a certain age. For example, conditionality in the Netherlands begins when the child is five, and in France and Germany when the child is three.