Thurrock’s 2,500 lone parents will be affected by benefit changes meaning they will start to get help to look for work rather than stay on benefits once their children are aged seven are over – previously it was when they were 10.
Lone parents whose child is aged seven or over will claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if they are able work, rather than Income Support. On JSA they will benefit from a comprehensive range of support including training opportunities, job application advice and other financial grants to help them return to work.
They will also receive advice on childcare, benefits and part-time or family friendly working from specialist lone parent advisers at Jobcentre Plus. The Work Programme is also being introduced to give flexible support to get people in jobs and other back-to-work measures are available including Work Clubs.
Those with a health condition or disability which limits their capability for work will be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said:
“We know that work is the best route out of poverty. 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. “Getting a good balance between work and family responsibilities is important for every parent. Job Centre Plus advisors will actively support lone parents so that they can get that balance right too.”
Paul Fisher from Jobcentre Plus in Essex said:
“Our specialist lone parent advisers understand the challenges of looking for work when you’re also caring for a family. We can help you find work that fits into your commitments, and give you support to get the type of job you want.”
In other countries where active labour measures are in place, eligibility is often limited to lone parents with a youngest child above a certain age. For example, conditionality in Australia begins when the child is six, in the Netherlands when the child is five, and in France and Germany when the child is three.