Press release

Support to help lone parents into work

From today, lone parents will start getting the help they need to look for work earlier rather than stay on benefits.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

From today, 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 has announced.

If they are able to work, lone parents on Income Support whose youngest child is aged five or over 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 youngest child was aged seven. 

Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said:

We know that work is the best route out of poverty, so we are determined to help more lone parents take their first steps into work. That is why, rather than being trapped on benefits, lone parents with younger children will now have additional access to the help and support they need to move closer to employment.

Getting a good balance between work and family responsibilities is important for every parent. Jobcentre Plus advisors will actively support lone parents with things like child care and part time jobs so that they can get that balance right too.

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.

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 around £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.

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

  • In March, around 124,000 letters were sent to lone parents across the country to let them know they may be affected by the changes.
  • A lone parent on Jobseeker’s 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 have the right to restrict their availability for work to their child’s normal school hours without it affecting their benefits.
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid at the same rate as 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.
Published 21 May 2012