What isn’t working?
Despite the grand speeches and initiatives over the last two decades to get more single parents into work, the UK remains a long way behind other developed countries. Although the employment the rate rose from 45% to 57% between 1996 and 2007, it had only inched up to 59% by 2012. When this is compared to the rate of 71% for other industrialised countries, it becomes clear that there is much more work to do.
A reduction in back-to-work financial support, the removal of the entitlement to see a specialist Lone Parent Adviser in job centres, and the removal of automatic fee remission for further education courses for single parents on income support have combined with a lack of quality affordable childcare to make it even more difficult for single parents to find their way back to the workplace. At a time when this support is being removed, conditions placed on single parents are becoming tougher.
How to make it work
In order to get the single parent employment rate up to the level of other industrialised countries and of mothers in couples, we need to see:
- Guaranteed access to specialist support from advisers who understand single
parents and their particular needs – through both Jobcentre Plus and the Work
- Renewal of all the current parent flexibilities under Universal Credit
- Guaranteed action to support single parents who have been looking for work for two or more years into sustainable employment
- Sustained activity to stimulate job creation