Single parents now required to look for job when youngest turns 7

Charities voice concern that lone parents could suffer from changes to the benefits system designed to help them back to work

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From today, single parents will be expected to look for work when their youngest child turns 7, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced. Lone parents would previously have received Income Support until their youngest reached 10. Now they will receive Job Seekers Allowance from when their child is 7.

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The DWP has said this move will enable single parents to qualify for advice and support to help them find a job and manage their childcare.  The aim is to lift up to 15,000 children out of poverty.

“We know that work is the best route out of poverty,” said Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller. “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.”

However, although the Government claims childcare responsibilities will be taken into account when assessing parents’ ability to work, some charities have suggested they will struggle to find part-time jobs.

Fiona Weir, chief exec of children’s charity Gingerbread, voiced her concerns on the BBC’s Today program. “The coalition government says it wants to make work pay and to support single parents into work, but the reality is that today thousands of single parents are being set up to fail,” she said.

“The Government needs to act fast to improve availability of jobs with flexible working hours, improve the job-search support provided from day one of a claim, and increase access to childcare,” she added, explaining that the majority of single parents already work or would if it were possible.

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Will you be affected by this change? For more info on how recent benefits cuts will affect your family, check out our guide to the spending changes.

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