Lone parents biggest beneficiaries of rising employment

single parent in south London Image copyright Getty Images

Lone parents across the UK have seen the biggest rise in employment of any group of people, official figures show.

For the first time ever, two-thirds of single parents were in work between April and June 2016, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The figures also show that the number of households where no one works has fallen to 3.1 million, the lowest number recorded in the last 20 years.

The government said welfare reforms had given people an incentive to work.

However, single-parent groups said many working individuals were still in poverty and still struggling to support their families.

A record number of households - 17.6 million - now have at least one adult with a job, while the number of children living in workless households is also at a record low.


In the second quarter of 2016, 66.5% of lone parents were in work, a rise of 2% on a year ago.

Ten years ago, 56% of single parents had a job; 20 years ago, it was just 44%.

Gingerbread, the charity that supports single parents, welcomed the rise in employment.

"However, we know that many of the single parents behind these statistics are struggling to provide for their families with low-paid, insecure work," said Fiona Weir, Gingerbread's chief executive.

"More than a third of single parents in part-time work and a fifth of those working full-time are still in poverty," she said.

Unemployment rates have been falling among all groups of people since December 2011.

Welfare reforms

Since 2008, more single parents have had to prove they are looking for work in order to qualify for benefits.

Those with children under the age of 12 used to have no such requirement; now all lone parents with children over the age of five have to show they are actively looking.

The government also pointed to wider changes in the welfare system, which it says have encouraged more people to return to work.

Couples, and single parents with children, can only receive a maximum of £26,000 a year in benefits, under the so-called Benefit Cap.

Single people can receive up to £18,200.

"Welfare reforms like the Benefit Cap and Universal Credit are giving people clear incentives to move off benefits and into work so they can provide a brighter future for themselves and their families," said employment minister Damian Hinds.

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