Lone parents with 5 and 6 year olds to move on to JSA – Implications for Advisers

Lone parents whose youngest child is aged between 5 and 6 have started to receive letters informing them that next year they will be moving off Income Support and onto JSA. This is a fulfilment of the Conservative Party Manifesto pledge.

In this blog I want to outline some key issues for Employment Advisers to consider – Please do add your own comments and please pass this blog on if you think it is useful for your team.

30,000 More Lone Parents on JSA
The JSA figures show that parents of older children find it easier to move into work than those with younger a child. Around 35,000 additional Lone Parents joined JSA when parents of children aged 12-15 were included. By the time the age was down to 7 a further 70,000 had joined, with around 50,000 of those being parents of 7 and 8 year olds. It is likely that another 30-50,000 parents will join between 2012 and 2013.

Demographics
The majority of the clients will be women under 35. It will be worthwhile considering how your office looks to them.  Does it feel welcoming and safe.  Will they have opportunities to meet with other parents like themselves?

Job requirements
Many will seek part-time, school hours, term-time work. This greatly diminishes the number of jobs available to them and often condemns them to minimum wage jobs – which make it hard to be much better off in work. Have you got an approach to encourage parents to feel more confident to take on a broader range of jobs.

Academic year
We know lone parents will best be able to make meetings in term-time and school hours. But it is worthwhile considering the time of year the appointment is made. How can you take advantage of the rhythm of the school year to help parents move into work. We are working on a project looking at how to use the time before the Summer holidays and Christmas to focus parents on future j0b seeking. I’ll let you know how that gets on.

Childcare – build up confidence
Parents who have used childcare, whether formal or family, find it easier to get back to work. But we need to remember that five and six year olds can find school more stressful than younger children find full time nursery. In such cases it would be much better for parents to build up their childcare use over time rather than be expecting their children to start only when they start work. 

Please add your own ideas, thoughts and questions.

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