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Child Care

Volume 401: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of lone parents (a) are unable to work due to child care commitments and (b) have had to give up work because of a lack of available child care in the last six months. [101048]

The extent to which childcare commitments contribute directly to ability to work is a complex issue. Lone parents who work, as well as those who do not, report child care as a barrier to work. In a recent survey 52 per cent. of non-working lone parents reported a lack of child care in their area, compared to 45 per cent. of working lone parents; and 53 per cent. of non&-working lone parents did not want to leave their child with anyone else, compared to 44 per cent. of working lone parents.Information on the percentage of lone parents who have to give up work due to lack of available child care is not available. The most common reasons given for giving up work are health (27 per cent.), a personal decision to leave (15 per cent.) and being made redundant (12 per cent.). 6 per cent. of lone parents gave the breakdown of their child care arrangements as the reason for leaving work, but this does not mean necessarily that there was no child care available.The New Deal for Lone Parents (NDLP) is providing specialist advice and support, including help with child care, to help lone parents make the move into work. Recent evaluation has shown that participation in NDLP more than doubles lone parents chances of moving into work. We are making work possible for lone parents by providing available affordable childcare through initiatives such as the National Childcare Strategy and our new Tax Credits are making sure that that work pays.