Isle of Man welfare change for single parents

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A new welfare reform in the Isle of Man could require single parents with children aged 12 to look for work or risk losing benefits.

The changes will be debated in the March sitting of Tynwald.

Under the new rules, lone parents in this category will be switched from Income Support to the tougher system of Jobseeker's Allowance.

Single parents with children aged between 5 and 11 will also be forced to attend work-focused interviews.

Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw said: "Currently, a lone parent who has at least one child under the age of 16 can claim income support purely on the basis they are a lone parent- they don't have to look for work, or even to prepare for work, to qualify.

"This is unfair, especially when the vast majority of lone parents whose children are at secondary school are in work. Once a lone parent's youngest child has reached the age of 12, and is attending a secondary school, they should no longer qualify for income support on this basis. Instead they should be expected to look for work."

The social care department said a single parent with an older child who is severely disabled will still qualify for income support on the basis that they are a carer, rather than a lone parent.

In his budget speech last year, treasury minister Eddie Teare called for a curb to benefits which, in some cases, he said, paid more than the minimum wage.

It is thought there are currently about 530 single parents on the Isle of Man who claim income support - about 50 of these have children under the age of 12, and would be immediately affected by the proposed changes.

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