Posts Tagged ‘lone parents’

Don’t rob Penny to pay Paul – lone parents and young people both need help to get back to work!

I am not an expert on youth unemployment, and I try in these blogs to be factual and informative rather than campaign on particular issues.

But, for goodness sake, and from direct first hand experience of how tough it is out there for families, I would say to the government: PLEASE don’t make the help for young people come at the expense of supporting familes with young children who receive Working Tax Credit.

I have spent this week running a Take three days W2W programme with mothers, mainly lone parents, in East London. They are trying so hard to get back to work. These are women who are spending hours each day looking on-line, knocking on doors, going on courses, volunteering, and sending out CVs and application forms. Their three big concerns are

  1. The cost of childcare
  2. Making sure work pays
  3. That employers will want younger people with work experience

The coalition government’s reduction in childcare support for working families has been a big blow to lone parents.  If this is combined with a cut in the uprating of WTC and direct subsidies for young people with-out any extra help for lone parents they feel that the ladder is being pulled out from under them as they are struggling to get their foot on the first rung.

And remember Lone Parents attract no extra premium on the Work Programme.

Everyone who is out of work needs support commensurate with the barriers they face. It is certainly right to help young people. But not at the expense of those who have children.


Liz Sewell

Programme Director
Take three days




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Lone parents with 5 and 6 year olds to move on to JSA – Implications for Advisers

Lone parents whose youngest child is aged between 5 and 6 have started to receive letters informing them that next year they will be moving off Income Support and onto JSA. This is a fulfilment of the Conservative Party Manifesto pledge.

In this blog I want to outline some key issues for Employment Advisers to consider..

30,000 More Lone Parents on JSA
The JSA figures show that parents of older children find it easier to move into work than those with younger a child. Around 35,000 additional Lone Parents joined JSA when parents of children aged 12-15 were included. By the time the age was down to 7 a further 70,000 had joined, with around 50,000 of those being parents of 7 and 8 year olds. It is likely that another 30-50,000 parents will join between 2012 and 2013.

The majority of the clients will be women under 35. It will be worthwhile considering how your office looks to them.  Does it feel welcoming and safe.  Will they have opportunities to meet with other parents like themselves?

Job requirements
Many will seek part-time, school hours, term-time work. This greatly diminishes the number of jobs available to them and often condemns them to minimum wage jobs – which make it hard to be much better off in work. Have you got an approach to encourage parents to feel more confident to take on a broader range of jobs.

Academic year
We know lone parents will best be able to make meetings in term-time and school hours. But it is worthwhile considering the time of year the appointment is made. How can you take advantage of the rhythm of the school year to help parents move into work. We are working on a project looking at how to use the time before the Summer holidays and Christmas to focus parents on future j0b seeking. I’ll let you know how that gets on.

Childcare – build up confidence
Parents who have used childcare, whether formal or family, find it easier to get back to work. But we need to remember that five and six year olds can find school more stressful than younger children find full time nursery. In such cases it would be much better for parents to build up their childcare use over time rather than be expecting their children to start only when they start work.

See Take Three Days

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Today new support was put in place to assit lone parents with children aged seven and over to look for work rather than stay on benefits. Maria Miller stated, “We know that work is the best route out of poverty. This is why lone parents with younger children will now be able to have access to help and support to look for work through Jobcentre Plus.”

Lone parents whose child is aged seven or over will claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if they are able to work, rather than Income Support. On JSA they will benefit from a comprehensive range of support including training opportunities, job application advice and other financial grants to help them return to work.

They will receive advice on childcare, benefits and part-time or family friendly working from specialist lone parent advisors at Jobcentre Plus. The Work Programme is also being introduced to give flexible support to get people in jobs alongside other back-to-work measures including Work Clubs.

Those with a health condition or disability which limits their capability for work will be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

  • Lone parents with children of 12 or under will be able to specify school-hours only jobs without it affecting their benefits.
  • lone parent’s availability for work must take into account their childcare responsibilities.
  • A lone parent on JSA will not be expected to take up a job if appropriate childcare is not available.
  • Jobcentre Plus staff will ensure that every lone parent is contacted before the changes affect them to give them enough time to claim another benefit or find paid work.
  • 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.


  • International evidence indicates that, in the majority of cases, countries with higher lone parent employment rates have lower poverty rates for lone parent households.
  • A child of a lone parent that works part-time is over 2.5 times less likely to be living in poverty than a child of a lone parent who is not working. This increases to over 4 times less likely if the lone parent works full time.

See full DWP press release here


There are numerous challenges including the need for employers to be flexible; however, given the heightened competition for jobs and the relatively low wages that abound…. how realistic is it for large numbers of Lone Parents to find work that is local enough and flexible enough to support their childcare responsibilities?

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In its emergency budget the government announced that it will need 100,000 single parents to secure employment in 2011, when their youngest child reaches five as opposed to the current age of 10.  Additionally, 120,000 single parents whose youngest child is seven will be required to source employment.

However, the findings in a new report ‘Changing the Workplace’ by the charity Gingerbread suggest that over 500 lone parents felt that there were few jobs that offered them flexible working arrangements; partially indicating the impracticality of the government’s aforementioned employment plans.

The Chief Executive of Gingerbread, Fiona Weir, claimed that recent policy alterations were pressurising single parents to find employment or risk benefit cuts, and argued that this is not what is needed.  She said: “Nationally, nearly 60% of single parents are already in work and most of those on benefits say they want a job. A workplace that works better for single parents is the missing part of the jigsaw. Without action from government and employers many single parents will remain trapped in poverty”

See the Full report

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The Government has welcomed today’s fall in unemployment but has warned that there is a long way to go in securing the recovery, dealing with the deficit and generating sustainable job growth.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

“There is still a huge amount of work to do to revitalise the economy and create an environment where businesses are growing and employing people again.

“What concerns me in today’s figures is that while there are more jobs in the economy there is too little evidence of them being taken up by the five million people who were stranded on out-of-work benefits under the previous Government. While there are fewer people on Jobseeker’s Allowance this month, the numbers claiming other benefits remains stubbornly high, and many of these people have been dependent on benefits for years….”

Labour market statistics: July 2010

This month’s Labour Force Survey covers March 2010 to May 2010.

The number of people in work rose this quarter

  • 28.98 million people were in work in March to May.
  • The employment level in March-May was 160,000 higher than in the previous three months,
  • The employment rate is 72.3%, up 0.3 on the quarter but down 0.6 percentage points on the year.

JSA claimants fell this month but 5 million people still claiming one of the main out-of-work benefits:

  • Claimant unemployment was 1,46m in June 2010, down 20.8 thousand on the level in May,
  • Claimant unemployment rate, is 4.5%, down 0.1 percentage points on the month


  • The numbers claiming incapacity benefits remains broadly stable at 2.62 million

Lone Parents

Provisional figures for May 2010 suggests the number receiving lone parent benefits has fallen from 695,000 in November 2009 to 675,000.

ILO unemployment has fallen this quarter

  • 2.47 million people were ILO unemployed in the March to May quarter, down by 34,000 on the December to February period
  • the ILO unemployment rate is 7.8%,

Economic inactivity

  • Economic inactivity level is 8.10 million, down 62,000 on the quarter but up 180 thousand on the year.
  • Economic inactivity rate is 21.3%,

The rise in inactivity is partly the result of more inactive students.  Excluding students, inactivity as a proportion of the working age population is 15.4%, up 0.1 percentage points over the last year.

The number of vacancies rose this quarter and the number of redundancies is broadly flat

* There were 160,000 redundancies in March to May, down 2 thousand on the previous quarter and down 144,000 on the previous year.

* ONS’s vacancy survey estimates an average of 486,000 unfilled vacancies in the three months to June 2010, up 10 thousand on the quarter and up 52 thousand on the year.

The full figures

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Lone parents whose youngest child is aged five or over will be moved onto Jobseekers Allowance rather than Income Support from 2011-12 as part of the Coalition Government’s Welfare to Work reforms. This could amount to a cohort of around 350,000 more customers on JSA since 2008 and become an increasingly significant customer group for W2W Providers to support.

Our experience shows that lone parents need focused support to get back to work, this includes;

  1. Group activities to build confidence and motivation, and act as a catalyst.
  2. Specialist Advisers who are empathetic to their concerns.
  3. Support to build the network that will get them back to work, which can mean access to childcare, basic skills, ESOL etc
  4. A guide to help them through the process of getting back to work
  5. And a hand to hold as they move into work.

W2W organizations are going to need to build their capacity to support this group of clients and as importantly develop relationships with employers that deliver the types of flexible working this group requires.
Liz Sewell will be speaking at the Welfare to Work Convention on Friday 2nd July, outlining ways Welfare to Work organizations can help lone parents get back to work more quickly.

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