New ISER research into the impact of the Lone Parent Obligation finds the Labour government’s intiative is succeeding where others have failed, and more than 30,000 lone parents were off benefits and into work after three months of the measure being enforced.
Before November 2008, lone parents were able to claim Income Support (IS) as a lone parent until their youngest child reached 16. Since then, the age of the youngest child has been reduced over time, so that since May 2012 lone parents with a youngest child aged five or over are no longer entitled to claim IS solely on the grounds of being a lone parent. Lone parents losing
entitlement to IS are able to claim another out-of-work benefit, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), where appropriate. Some lone parents are also exempt from Lone Parent Obligations (LPO) and can continue to claim IS for another qualifying reason. LPO aims to increase the number of lone parents moving into work, as a
way of reducing child poverty among lone parent families, as well as to promote the wider benefits from a move into work.
The study, Lone Parent Obligations: an impact assessment, commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions and conducted by Dr Silvia Avram, Professor Mike Brewer and Dr Andrea Salavatori, shows LPO has had a much greater impact on moving lone parents into work than other previous programmes and initiatives aimed at this group of claimants.
Other key findings:
- Three months after the loss of IS entitlement, LPO is estimated to have reduced the share of lone parents receiving any out-of-work benefit by between 11 and 13 percentage points, and to have increased the share in work by around seven percentage points. This corresponds to 50,000 fewer lone parents receiving an out-of-work benefit and 30,000 more recorded as being in work.
- Nine months after loss of IS entitlement, the share receiving any out-of-work benefit had fallen further, to between a 13 and 16 percentage point reduction, and the share in work had increased by between eight and ten percentage points.
- Of those lone parents who moved into work, most moved directly from IS to work (58 per cent) before the loss of IS entitlement. Just under a third had moved into work following a spell on JSA.
- Lone parents with older children and lone parents aged under 25 appear to be less affected by LPO, consistent with these lone parents being further from the labour market, with less (recent) experience of work, and greater barriers to moving into work.
- LPO does not appear to have encouraged lone parents to have more children to remain eligible for IS and avoid LPO.