By: Nick Coleman and Timothy Riley
The survey is part of a mixed-method evaluation study of Lone Parent Obligations (LPO). Lone Parent Obligations were introduced in November 2008 and since then, based on the age of their youngest child, lone parents have lost entitlement to Income Support solely on the grounds of being a lone parent. From May 2012, the age of the youngest child was lowered to five and over.
The primary aim of the evaluation overall is to explore whether and how lone parent employment interventions provide an effective incentive to look for paid employment, alongside an effective package of support for workless lone parents to enable them to find, enter and sustain paid employment.
The survey aims to understand lone parents’ decision-making around returning to work, and the relationship between decision-making and characteristics, attitudes, values and beliefs; destinations and behaviours; and progress through, and experience of, the LPO ‘journey’. The survey was carried out in two stages, with lone parents with a youngest child of seven or eight when they left Income Support. The first wave was conducted in 2010 while lone parents were still on Income Support. This second, follow-up survey took place between February and April 2012, around one year after lone parents’ eligibility for Income Support had ended. In this survey, 1,088 face-to-face interviews were conducted with lone parents.
Other elements of the evaluation include:
- three waves of published qualitative research
- Lone Parent Obligations: early findings of implementation as well as experiences of the Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance regimes, by Gloster et al, DWP Research Report number 645, 2010
- Lone Parent Obligations: destinations of lone parents after Income Support eligibility ends, Casebourne et al, DWP Research Report number 710, 2010
- Lone Parent Obligations: work, childcare and the Jobseeker’s Allowance regime, Lane et al, DWP Research Report number 782, 2011
- an assessment of the impact of LPO, particularly in terms of movement off benefit and into work, which is due to be published in spring 2013.
The Department for Work and Pensions has used the research from the evaluation to inform policy development for lone parents, which included the subsequent extension of LPO to lone parents with a youngest child aged five and over. We are also using the findings to ensure that lone parents get the support they need when they move off Income Support on to either Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. This has included:
- Refreshing, re-issuing and re-enforcing messages and information on lone parents for Jobcentre Plus advisers. Communication has recently been re-issued, signposting advisers to the information available to them to support lone parents with their jobsearch, so that it can be tailored to their individual needs.
- Reviewing what further information may be needed for advisers on lone parents, particularly as we move towards the introduction of Universal Credit.
- Considering further the information available on childcare both to advisers and parents. We are working to improve access to information on childcare and are exploring the best options for delivery.