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Impacts of welfare reforms on lone parents moving into work: report
Date: May 2014
Work programme: Work and poverty
Author: Dr Helen Graham, Prof Ronald McQuaid
Glasgow has the highest proportion of lone parent households of any local authority across Scotland – around 40% of households with dependent children.
Against this backdrop, lone parents moving into paid work will need to negotiate new welfare changes. Those receiving Income Support will now move to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) when their youngest child turns five years old. They must also show that they are actively seeking work, or face potentially having their benefit stopped.
Two publications looking at the impacts of these changes are available: this full report that included the views of lone parents living in Glasgow and moving into work, and a related literature review.
Some of the lessons to emerge from this research include:
A need to provide affordable childcare and addressing particular gaps, such as when a lone parent is seeking work when their child has turned five during the summer holidays when schools have not started and free nursery provision stops.
A need to put in place more support to improve lone parents’ skills and career prospects, as Jobcentre Plus staff often did not take into account their needs in an atmosphere that was described as generally punitive and suspicious.
To address the links between financial difficulties and poor health experienced disproportionately by lone parents, it is essential that there is co-ordination between health, social care, early years and employability services.
The move to a monthly payment under Universal Credit will pose significant challenges for lone parents with access to financial and budgeting advice and IT support required.