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Lone Parents

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

The Government are committed to continuing their work to eradicate child poverty and help all individuals reach their full potential by moving from unemployment and welfare dependency to paid work.

We announced in the command paper “Ready for Work: Full Employment in our Generation” our intention to require lone parents with older children who can work to look for work. This means that lone parents will no longer be entitled to income support solely on the grounds of being a lone parent. Instead, those who are able to look for paid work will make a claim for jobseeker’s allowance and be required to seek suitable employment actively.

We announced our expectation that this change would be introduced from October 2008 for lone parents with a youngest child aged 12 or over, and then from October 2009 and October 2010 when the youngest child turns 10 and 7 respectively.

I now intend that the arrangements for new and repeat lone parent customers with a youngest child of 12 or over will take affect a month later, in November 2008, to allow time to consider some additional flexibilities to jobseeker’s allowance. The Government have been working closely with a range of groups who represent the interests of lone parents and has had early advice from the Social Security Advisory Committee. Additional flexibilities to jobseeker’s allowance have been suggested to meet the specific needs of lone parents.

The Government intend to take forward a number of these suggestions in connection with proposals for regulations that I will provide to the Social Security Advisory Committee. I believe that the proposals will strike the right balance to ensure that jobseeker’s allowance remains focused on helping people look for paid work while accommodating the varied and individual circumstances that lone parents will face.

As has been discussed with lone parent stakeholder groups, we intend that existing lone parent recipients of income support with a youngest child aged 12 or over will be progressively moved from income support from early 2009.