Magazine article Public Finance

Welfare Reforms Target Lone Parents and Long-Term Jobless

Magazine article Public Finance

Welfare Reforms Target Lone Parents and Long-Term Jobless

Article excerpt

Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week outlined plans to force benefit claimants into work - axing some payments and asking people to take jobs outside their locality.

Publishing a radical welfare reform green paper on July 18, Brown and Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain presented a blueprint for a mobile, skilled workforce to achieve the prime minister's long-term target of an 80% employment rate and improved productivity.

But Hain also proposed a controversial set of conditions to be attached to future benefit claims - and the creation of a welfare-to-work market.

Currently, lone parents are paid Income Support until their youngest child is 16. But Hain's green paper, In work, better off: next steps to full employment, suggests that single parents should be switched to Jobseeker's Allowance and asked to seek work once their youngest child is 12 from 2008 and seven from 2010.

Hain said this complemented plans to introduce 'wrap-around' state childcare from 2010.

But lone parent charities were incensed. Kate Green, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: 'Forcing lone parents to face benefit sanctions when their children are still at primary school is outrageous. …

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