Programme 'failing single parents'

Jobcentre PlusA flagship Government employment scheme is failing many single parents who are often "invisible" in the system, a report has claimed.

The Gingerbread group, which campaigns on behalf of single parents, called for an urgent overhaul of the Work Programme, saying it was not delivering the targeted support promised by the Government.

Advisers were said to be failing to get to grips with the needs of single parents, who need support to overcome barriers to work, including affordable childcare and a shortage of decent part-time jobs.

Single parents in the Work Programme were a third less likely to find work than other jobseekers, said the report.

Gingerbread called for a renewed focus on single parents from Jobcentre Plus as well as the Work Programme.

Chief executive Fiona Weir said: "Securing a stable job with a decent wage is single parents' best chance of lifting their families out of poverty. But our research shows that the Government cannot pretend its promise of personalised, flexible employment support is even close to being delivered.

"Tailored support is the most effective way of helping single parents back to work, and yet high targets and low budgets mean that advisers have neither the time nor resources to deliver this. Significant reform is required if single parents are to be supported into sustainable employment."

A single parent quoted in the report said there was a feeling that advisers wanted to get her any job, adding that the atmosphere was "awful".

MPs last month branded the multibillion-pound Work Programme "extremely poor", saying it only managed to get 3.6% of people on the scheme off benefits and into secure employment in its first 14 months.

The figure for single parents was 2.5%, said Gingerbread.
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