Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by One Plus (CP 16)



  The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has announced an inquiry "to examine the extent of child poverty in the UK and the effectiveness of the Government's strategy to eradicate it".

  This submission from One Plus: One Parent Families is a response to some of these issues which are of relevance to children in one parent families.


  One Plus is a dynamic independent organisation of lone parent families. One Plus collaborates with a range of partners creating services, training and employment within local communities to help tackle the poverty and social exclusion facing so many one parent families.


  Although the Inquiry focus is on child poverty One Plus believes it is not possible to detach child poverty from the poverty facing the families they live in. The following overview therefore looks at the situation of one parent families in Scotland.

    —  Lone Parent Population

        There are 151,484 lone parents with dependent children in Scotland. A one parent family is now a stage in the family life cycle. Lone parents are concentrated in certain geographical areas.

    —  Low Income

        The connection between lone parenthood, child poverty and deprivation is well documented. Having no paid work is closely associated with poverty. However, lone parents' earnings do not lift them far up the income distribution ladder.

    —  Employment Deprivation

        Lone parenthood shows the single biggest association with an individual's risk of non-employment.

    —  Education, Skills and Training

        Lone parents need to be able to increase their education and skills to enable them to move into the labour market on a higher level. However almost half of lone parents not in work have no academic qualification.

    —  Health Deprivation

        A variety of research indicates that poor health is a hidden hand in keeping many lone parents trapped in poverty. This is a contributory factor to other forms of deprivation lone parents face.

    —  Financial Resources

        Lone parents score extremely high on indicators which highlight a lack of financial services. The financial exclusion lone parents face results in a range of problems in paying for basic needs.

    —  Housing Applications and Physical Environment

        Lone parents are often concentrated in georgraphical areas with poor housing. They are also more likely to be dissatisfied with the area they live in than other groups.

    —  Communication and Digital Exclusion

        Lone parents have a low level of access to ICT and personal transport. This reduces their employability as well as learning, training and community participation opportunities.

    —  Geographical Access to Employment

        There is a concentration of lone parents in urban conurbations and areas of industrial decline. As a result they are faced with higher costs reducing their net disposable income.

    —  Social Deprivation and Isolation

        Lone parents experence severe hardship, poor housing, health problems and a lack of access to financial services. All of which has an adverse effect on social relationships which are just as much "necessities of life" as are material goods and services.


  The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has announced an inquiry "to examine the extent of child poverty in the UK and the effectiveness of the Government's strategy to eradicate it".

  The number of children in relative poverty in the UK has increased substantially over the past few decades and the latest figures show that 3.8 million children 30% of all children are living in poverty (below 60% of median income after housing costs). The Government has pledged to end child poverty within 20 years; to reduce child poverty by half by 2010; and has a PSA target to reduce it by at least a quarter (to 3.1 million) by 2004. As the first stage of the child poverty target draws near, the Government believes it is on track to meet the target. Yet organisations working in the poverty field, leading children's organisations and academics are increasingly concerned that this may not be the case.

  Issues to be included in the Committee's inquiry are:

    —  The measurement of child poverty and the Government's annual poverty report, Opportunity For All.

    —  The extent of child poverty in Britain and the causes of it.

    —  The impact of child poverty on children and families—are specific groups particularly affected?

    —  The extent and causes of regional variations in child poverty.

    —  The effectiveness of the Government's strategies to reduce child poverty and whether the child poverty targets will be met. Is enough being done across government and are further initiatives needed?

    —  Comparisons between child poverty within the UK and other countries.

  This submission from One Plus: One Parent Families is a response to some of these issues which are of relevance to children in one parent families in Scotland.


  One Plus is a dynamic independent organisation for one parent families. One Plus works throughout west and central Scotland and is managed by an elected committee, the majority of whom are lone parents. Lone parent involvement in setting priorities and in the work of the organisation has been crucial in enabling One Plus to be recognised as a leading lone parent organisation.

  One Plus collaborates with a range of partners, creating services, training and employment within local communities to help tackle the poverty and social exclusion facing so many one parent families. One Plus is active in three key areas:

    —  It delivers a range of diverse, innovative and responsive services which benefit one parent families.

    —  Campaigning and policy work to promote positive policies for lone parents and children.

    —  Involvement in the development and delivery of community projects and initiatives, particularly developing Childcare and Social Care Services within the social economy.

  One Plus is a major employer in Glasgow, employing around 580 people. It has 200 permanent staff, 188 intermediate labour market employees and over 192 sessional staff. "Kidcare", a One Plus community enterprise, employs over 70 staff. One Plus provides training places for over 360 trainees at any one time, delivers childcare to 500 children in 18 out-of-school care services and 176 under-fives in five daycare facilities. One Plus provides 2,000 hours of social care to 195 clients, deals with over 7,500 enquiries a year from lone parents and others and works with local self-help groups.

  Lone parents face problems and barriers which often seem impossible to overcome if faced alone. One Plus aims to bring lone parents together to promote positive policies which improve opportunities for themselves and their children.


  There are 151,484 lone parents with dependant children in Scotland, 24.5% of all families with children! They care for around 257,522 children. A one parent family is now a stage in the family life cycle lasting on average around five years. A third to a half of children will spend some time in a one parent family.

  Analysis shows that there are more one parent families in certain geographical area (see Appendix 1). In Glasgow there are now 27,920 lone parent families who make up 40% of all families with children. In Social Inclusion Partnership areas the proportion can be even higher. Therefore one parent families are a large group within Scottish society and in particular as a percentage of families with children. This is a crucial point because in partnership with the UK Government the Scottish Executive is committed to eradicating child poverty in a generation. A key issue is the extent to which child deprivation can be determined from examining household deprivation. Household poverty is generally accepted as the most important indicator of the well-being of children. Therefore the poverty and deprivation facing lone parent families offers the evidence for the development of a specific targeted response to support them to tackle the issues which trap their children in poverty and social exclusion.

  The next section covers the income deprivation and poverty facing lone parents and their children.


  The connection between lone parenthood, poverty and deprivation is well documented as the following research highlights.

    —  While lone parents make up 9% of the total UK population at 21% they continue to be over-represented among those in poverty.

    —  Around two thirds of lone parent households in Scotland fall below the 70% low incomethreshold and more than half below the 60% threshold. This is at least double the rate for anyone   else (couples with children; adults no children and pensioners.

    —  There are noticeable differences in income levels within Scotland. In 2000 the average income(before housing costs) in Scotland was £336. The weekly income of couples with children was£360. Lone Parents had the lowest income at £204 a week.

    —  In Scotland 77,600 lone parents claim Income Support. If single claimants with dependentsclaiming the disabled and pensioner premiums are included this rises to 93,000.

    —  54% of children in one parent families are poor compared to 22% in families with two parents. 45% of all poor children now live in one parent families.

    —  Nearly twice as many children in one parent families (77%) have families in the bottom two-fifths of the income distribution compared to 43% of children in couple families.

    —  In Scotland 70% of lone parents had a net annual Income of less than £10,000 compared to 25% of small two parent families and 29% of large two parent families.

In-Work Poverty

  Having no paid work is closely associated with poverty. However, lone parents earnings do not lift them far up the income distribution ladder. As the following research highlights for many lone parents the financial gain of employment is small.

    —  58% of children living with a working lone parent are in the bottom two-fifths of   the income distribution and for those whose parents work part-time the figure is 78%.

    —  WFTC (now replaced by the Working and Child Tax Credits) was received by 80,600 lone parents in Scotland in August 2002. Of these only 16,000 receive Childcare Tax Credit. The average payment is £38.

    —  The majority (77%) of lone parents in Scotland who work, and claim WFTC, fall into the lowest paid occupational groups: Admin/Clerical (29%); Personal Services (18%); Sales (17%);   elementary occupations (13%).


  Patterns of family formation play a major role in the distribution of employment and changes in both domains have a strong influence on each other.

  Lone parenthood shows the single biggest association with an individual's risk of non-employment (a 45% increased risk compared to: 20% for "any impairment"; 7% for over 50 years of age; 13% for those with low qualifications, skills).

  Lone parents are currently the subject of major policy initiatives in Scotland as well as UK wide policies. The Government's official target is that 70% of lone parents should be in employment by 2010. The aim therefore is to reduce non-employment among lone parents to 30%.

  Research highlights the following findings around lone parents and employment.

    —  The employment rate for lone parents in 2002 has increased to 56% from 42% in 1997 [Labour Force Survey definition includes any work at all—even a couple of hours].

    —  57% of lone parent households in Scotland contains no working adults.

    —  The economic status of Scottish female lone parents differs from that of working women as a whole.

    —  18% of female single parents are in full-time employment compared with 39% overall.

    —  23% are in part-time employment as are 18% of all women?.

    —  42% of single parent women are looking after the home or family compared with 18% of all working women.

    —  Although 90% of lone parents say they would like to work at some point, this doesn't mean that they are "work-ready" immediately.

    —  Almost four in 10 already work 16 hours or more a week.

    —  Nearly two in 10 work a few hours or are ready to work.

    —  Three in 10 want to work one day.

    —  One in 10 will never be able to work.

  The Government's target of 70% to be in work by 2010 is ambitious. Significant infrastructural changes are needed to address major barriers to work faced by lone parents.


  The combination of educational, training and on-the-job experience builds up an individual's stock of skills which pays a "dividend" in terms of future job prospects and earnings.

  Low paid work even if supplemented by Tax Credits, is often not enough to lift one parent families out of poverty. Lone parents need to be offered the opportunity to increase their education and skills to enable them to move into the labour market at a higher level and earn wages capable of lifting them out of poverty.

  However the following research shows:

    —  Over a third of all lone parents and nearly half of those not in work (44%) have no academic qualification.

    —  In Scotland 3% of female lone parents were in further or higher education in 2001 compared to 5% of all women.

    —  Recent training is also likely to affect employment opportunities. Lone mothers who receive training one year are twice as likely as those who did not, to find a job the next year.

  The Scottish Executive Social Justice target aims to increase the employment of lone parents who are relatively disadvantaged in the labour market. Lower educational achievement is related to earlier deprivation and exerts a strong influence on immediate labour market outcomes and future life opportunities of lone parents and their children.


  The link between poverty and ill health is well documented. Studies by the Policy Studies Institute and others indicate that poor health prevents many lone parents from improving their circumstances.

    —  Three in 10 lone parents has a sick or disabled child. Twenty-five per cent of these parents say this restricts their options to take up paid employment.

    —  Thirty-three percent of lone parents working under 16 hours suffer ill health either from a long standing illness or disability—22% say it affects their ability to work.

    —  The stress of being a sole carer has a particular impact on health. In addition lone parents who move from benefits to low paid work may sometimes be no better off in socio-economic terms and even worse off in health terms.

    —  50% of all lone mothers smoke—twice the rate of other women. While 75% of the most disadvantaged lone mothers smoke.

    —  The hardship lone parents experience forms a major barrier to giving up smoking. At the same time the financial and health burden imposed by smoking deepen their difficulties. These in turn discourages a return to work.

    —  A child born in Glasgow can expect to live for 10 years (male) or seven years (female) less than a child born in Dorset/Somerset. The poor health lone parents face is a contributory factor to other forms of deprivation lone parents face—low income, lack of paid employment, isolation and low self-esteem.


  A lack of financial services such as banking, credit cards and insurance can lead to a higher cost of living, lack of access to other services or goods and higher financial risks.

    —  Around 45% of lone parent households in Scotland have a net annual income of less than £10,000.   This is compared to 6% of both small and large families.

    —  Across Scotland 53% of households have savings or investments. Lone Parents at 18% are the   least likely household type to have any savings.

    —  Eighty-seven per cent of households in Scotland have a bank account. Lone Parent households at 68% are by far the least likely to have a bank account.

  The financial exclusion one parent families face results in lone parents facing a range of problems in paying for basic needs such as heating and housing costs.


  The physical conditions in which people live and whether or not they have secure permanent accommodation have a considerable impact on their well-being. Research shows that lone parents are often concentrated in areas with poor housing:

    —  On becoming a lone parent 58% of women move their home most often into local authority accommodation.

    —  In Scotland lone parent households are the only household type with a majority in social rented housing at 63% compared to an average of 28% of whole population.

    —  Lone parents in Scotland are more likely to live in flats than other household types—52% compared to 22% of small families and 14% of large families.

    —  Lone parents in Scotland are significantly more likely than other household types to say their area is a poor place to live with almost a quarter saying this.

    —  Lone Parent Households in Scotland have higher rates of housebreaking than other households at 5% compared to an average of 2%. They also experience higher vandalism than any other group—14% compared to a national average of 10%.


  The economic and social deprivation faced by one parent families is reflected in their low level of access to information and communication technology and personal transport. The fact that many lone parents do not have a car or access to a computer also reduces their employability as well as the capacity to participate in learning, training or community activities:

    —  61% of Scottish Lone Parent Households do not have access to any motor vehicle compared to 12% of small families and 14% of large families.

    —  34% of Lone Parent Households have a computer compared to 66% of small families and 70% of large families.

    —  Only 20% of lone parents have access to the Internet compared to 51% of small families and 53% of large families.


  There are more lone parents in Scottish urban conurbations and in areas which have seen industrial decline—such as Glasgow, Dundee and Lanarkshire. Moreover the percentage of one parent families living in SIP areas is extremely high—these are areas where there are fewer employment prospects and slower growth in new employment opportunities.

  In Glasgow lone parents form 40.1% of all families with children (see Appendix 1); Dundee and West Dunbartonshire have the next highest proportions of one parent families at 35% and 32% respectively. In SIP areas lone parent families constitute even higher percentages of all families with children. In Millarston, Glenburn and Thrushcraigs SIPs in Renfrewshire for example lone parents constitute 66%, 57% and 56% of all families respectively.

  For lone parents in depressed local labour markets one of the major barriers to employment, and to leaving poverty through employment, is a shortage of well paid jobs. Lone parents tend to be concentrated in geographical areas which have not benefited from the restructuring of employment.

  People with low access to employment will be faced with higher costs in travelling to work, reducing their income. Lone parents face the additional cost of funding childcare to cover any time taken up by travelling to work.


  Lone parents who have lived in poverty for some time experience severe hardship, poor housing, health problems, lack of access to financial services and debt. All of which has an adverse effect on social relationships which are just as much "necessities of life" as material goods or services.

  Lone parents, because of their sole caring responsibilities and low income are often isolated in their home. Research highlights the lack of confidence of lone parents who have been socially and domestically isolated for a number of years, caring for young children. Isolation occurs at a number of levels. One is simply not having an adult partner with whom to share experiences secondly, many lone parents whether working or not can feel trapped in the evening because of the expense of childcare and the lack of a partner to look after the children. Lack of income to participate outside the home is another issue, while many social activities are geared towards couples. Finally for many lone parents the effort of coping all day with the sole responsibility for the children leaves them too worn out/exhausted to contemplate other than home-centred activities.

  At an individual level the loss of social ties may lead to a loss of social support, isolation and stress. Long spells of comparative social isolation does not just affect lone parents' confidence, but also their contact with the networks and facilitates which exist to support families or to help people find employment.


  A recent analysis by NOMIS based at Durham University (50) shows that 40% of all households with children in Glasgow are now lone parent households. Across other Local Authorities in Scotland the trends are similar. One Plus, because of its range of services in local communities, is in touch with thousands of lone parent families. The organisation, along with many others, is concerned as to why after so many years of policies targeting one parent families, so many children are still living in poverty.

  One Plus therefore decided to ask lone parents themselves what they think about key policies. The aim was to listen to their views on areas of policy which affect their lives and are the key to offering a route out of poverty. The Report "Our Right To Be Heard" (51) summarises the results of the consultation exercise which involved over 200 lone parents who attended.

  The main findings of relevance to the Committee Enquiry were as follows:


Supporting lone parents into employment as part of a strategy to eradicate child poverty

  1.  Lone parents trapped in hardship are less able to look at their options to move on to training, education or employment. Improve basic out of work benefit levels and review the Social Fund. A minimum income level should be set by government to help families out of poverty.

  2.  Invest in making Welfare Benefits more flexible and ensure the financial protection of families during times of transitions.

  3.  Increase the level of child tax credits per child to improve in-work income. Improve tax credit service delivery and ensure maximum take-up.

  4.  Reduce the tapers on loss of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit caused by increased income.

  5.  Widen eligibility for free school meals to all school children.

  6.  Improve the affordability, accessibility, flexibility and quality of childcare—particularly for parents working unsocial hours. The Scottish Executive should investigate the role of informal care and how it can be resourced.

  7.  Develop low cost credit options for those on low incomes as well as access to basic banking facilities such as direct debits.

  8.  Provide support to Initiatives, which offer lone parents access to training and education linked to better paid/higher quality employment.

  9.  Support for lone parents in employment to improve skills and training to sustain employment.

  10.  Access to a one-stop advice service, which is independent and offers a holistic service to lone parents including advice on employment opportunities.

  11.  Employers should be offered support to improve work/life balance policies. A positive image of lone parents in the workforce should be promoted amongst employers backed up with research and marketing materials.

  12.  The cost of travel is a serious barrier—community transport initiatives linked to employment should be piloted in partnership with employers.

  13.  Employment creation projects in areas with low vacancies and subsidised employment for disadvantaged Lone Parents would offer lone parents the chance of paid employment in their own communities.


  1.  There should be one building in each local area offering a comprehensive, holistic service which caters for varying ages and special needs, including: childcare; early education; health; family; training and employment support.

  2.  The Scottish Executive should assess and review the availability of childcare to meet the needs of lone parents not in employment, as well as those aiming to take up Learning, Training, Education or Employment and take action to improve availability, affordability and flexibility.

  3.  Childcare should be made more affordable firstly by increasing the contribution made by the childcare element of Tax Credits to reflect the real costs of childcare. Secondly provision of childcare should include 100% subsidy for specified target groups and geographical areas.

  4.  Publicity and information on the range of Childcare Services requires further investment by Scottish Executive and Local Authorities.

  5.  In terms of provision and funding both Scottish Executive and Local Authorities need to implement more "joined up thinking" and standardisation of quality, affordability, accessibility and flexibility.

  6.  The Scottish Executive should review the opening of hours of all childcare/nursery school provision within their remit.

  7.  The food provided in nurseries in particular should be subject to statutory nutritional standards.

  8.  There should be better recognition and status for childcare workers including better pay.

  9.  Funding processes to create new provision should be simplified.

  10.  Employers should be offered financial incentives to encourage employer supported childcare—for example, workplace nurseries and summer playschemes.

  11.  Provision of support to employers to extend flexible working practices for those with caring responsibilities.

  12.  Many lone parents use family and friends for childcare provision. Financial support for this form of care should be investigated—particularly around out of school hours.

  13.  Transport issues linked to childcare providers was felt to be a real problem and should be pursued by policy-makers.


  1.  Investigate options to tackle the effect of loss of Income Support, Housing and Council Tax Benefits and the resultant high levels of debt facing lone parents moving into higher education. For example, to be able to stay on benefits at all levels of education and disregarding the value of any student loan when calculating benefit entitlement.

  2.  The Scottish Executive should look at the support mechanisms required to enable lone parents to move on to Further Education and Higher Education—addressing problems around transitions.

  3.  Funding to develop a customised expert service which is locally based to advise lone parents and adult returners to further and higher education, which is accessible and reliable.

  4.  Address financial issues around the transition from Income Support to student support and back again for students with dependents.

  5.  Lone parent students often are denied access to the childcare they require to pursue their studies. Childcare for training and education should be fully funded by the government. (See Childcare Recommendations)

  6.  More support is needed for travel costs.

  7.  Training designed to offer confidence building, assertiveness and personal action planning tackles some of the barriers lone parents face in moving into learning and further/higher education.

  8.  Introduce supported learning and training for lone parents in employment to improve skills and access to better paid employment.

  9.  Educational Institutions and learning providers should be encouraged to offer options, which enable parents and carers to balance their learning with their caring responsibilities.

  10.  Consideration should be given to the location of education opportunities in relation to where lone parents live.

  11.  Open and Distance Learning options should be developed and promoted as a route to lone parents access to learning using new technological advances such as e-learning.

  12.  The New Deal for Lone Parents should move away from a "work-first" approach and be resourced to offer increased support to improve lone parents awareness and access to learning, training and education.


  This final section builds on the issues and recommendations identified by Lone Parents at the One Plus, Our Right To Be Heard Conference. It identifies key future priorities for policy makers in developing cross-cutting policy which would tackle the poverty and social exclusion facing lone parents and their children. As a community level it also describes how providing a range of customised family-focused services as part of a training and employment continuum can provide Lone Parents a bridge to social and economic inclusion.

Annual Family Impact Assessment Statements

  The first objective of any policy to tackle the poverty and social exclusion facing one parent families must be to improve the financial situation of Lone Parents and their children. Lone parents need to be offered the opportunity to increase their education and skills to enable access to higher level employment with wages capable of lifting them out of poverty. For many Lone Parents living in disadvantaged areas and rural communities, one of the major barriers to employment is a shortage of well paid family friendly employment. However, undue emphasis should not be placed on pressurising parents into the labour market, creating a danger that those denied the chance to be full-time carers will become victims of stressful, low-paid, inflexible employment and unsatisfactory childcare arrangements.

  Full-time work is not an immediate option for many Lone Parents because of the needs of their children. However the policies advocated in this report would facilitate the transition from Income Support to paid work for those Lone Parents who wish to work. The primary factors which motivate a lone parent's decision whether to work or not will be what is in the best interests of her children.

  Poverty has tended, in the past, to be departmentalised. Few of the solutions recognise the complexity of people's lives. They deal with poverty as though it were about benefits or tax or childcare or education or health or housing. The lives of families living in poverty are part of the whole picture and their views need to be taken into account. Most of all, a strategy for poverty must cut across disciplines and across government departments.

  To help families out of poverty, policies must be developed as a means of creating security. Policies which will affect social exclusion, need to be not only about tax and benefits, childcare, housing and health. They have to be a means of giving people a stake in society, making it clear that the large number of lone parents who are disenfranchised have a right to be citizens and able to participate in society fully.

  A co-ordinated, interdisciplinary approach which is well resourced is necessary to address the issues around lone parent poverty. All government policies should give due consideration as to their implications for families and children. An explicit Family Impact Assessment mechanism needs to be developed to measure the effect of legislation on families and children. This would include:


  A "mapping" study of Lone Parents would report on the situation of lone parents across Scotland by Local Authority according to a set of Key Indictors including—

    —  Income

    —  Training & Education

    —  Employment

    —  Health

    —  Housing

    —  Access to IT

    —  Participation in community structures

  It would also provide information on current service provision in each area. This would enable the position of each local authority to be ranked in relation to deprivation and service indicators. It would also form the basis for Family Policy targets. Three main areas include:

    —  Social and economic measures to support families eg tax, child benefit, the family dimension of social security.

    —  The material and non material infrastructure for supporting families. This would range from Home Helps to collective facilities such as nurseries, school meals and community centres.

    —  All areas of family law, including relationships between government and the family.

  2.  Reviewing existing legislation and identifying areas for future action in regular monitoring reports. This would include reviewing the Social Justice Milestone for Lone Parents set by the Scottish Executive.

  3.  Evaluation of the potential impact of new legislation and making recommendations for adjustments.

  An Annual Family Impact Assessment statement would: introduce the need for a co-ordinated strategy of data collected, evaluate the impact of new legislation; review existing legislation; and measure progress towards targets to tackle lone parent social exclusion and poverty and identifying areas for future action.


A Scottish Demonstration Project Focusing On One Parent Families

  There are series of stages during which a lone parent may experience vulnerability on her journey from Income Support to learning, training, education or employment.

  The reality for lone parents is that they often face multiple transitional phases where a lack of support undermines the sustainability of new opportunities. These transitional phases become central to proposals to support lone parents wishing to move on. To address these issues One Plus recommends:

    —  The development of opportunities which are responsive to the needs of individual lone parents and based on more flexible measures of "success". Interim indicators of progress include increased confidence, self-esteem and motivation.

    —  Addressing issues around the role of "trusted" intermediary organisations. Specifically how national programme can be combined with local initiatives to best meet the needs of individual lone parents.

  A Scottish Executive-led demonstration project could give focus to initiatives dealing with "transitions" aimed at gathering together good practice and allow for its dissemination widely across Scotland.

  One Plus for example has developed a model of practice which aims to demonstrate that through providing holistic support and training, pathways to sustainable employment can be created for Lone Parents. "The Training and Employment Continuum" is unique in that it links various support mechanisms together with customized group-based pre-vocational support/training, vocational training, access to employment and support to ensure employment is sustainable. The aim is to maximise the participating Lone Parents' incomes as well as enabling a balance between work and family commitments. The individual lone parents involved move through a series of transitions responsive to their needs and interests from initial contact through confidence building, assertiveness training and goal identification to other support options and eventually to appropriate training, education or employment. The approach is "family-focused" and the needs of children are central to the success of the model. Lone Parents' access to employment and the sustainability of this employment could be improved by supporting flexible holistic approaches to lone parent needs. This could include:


  A voluntary pre employment "Gateway" Initiative delivered by "trusted intermediaries" customised to suit Lone Parents including:

    —  Group based training in confidence building; skills identification; Lone Parent issues; Personal Action Planning; short taster courses.

    —  Information provision in five key areas: Training & Education opportunities; Grants/Bursaries; In-work Benefits; Careers Information & Guidance; Childcare Availability.

    —  Support mechanisms which include: travel expenses; an allowance/voluntary payment; childcare expenses/facilities.

    —  Personalised Advice Service covering family related matters.

    —  Mentoring support to enable sustainable involvement in training, education and employment.

    —  Post course tracking and support.

    —  Building partnerships with the Employment Service, Careers Service, local colleges and employers and promotion of work/life balance policies.


    —  Development of social economy sector service delivery companies.

    —  Training & employment offered as part of an ILM Initiative. For example One Plus "Childcare and Social Care" Initiatives.

    —  Customised vocational training courses with work experience element.

    —  Job Rotation Initiatives.

    —  Sustainable Employment Initiatives.


    —  Lone parents can access support in term of benefits advice, legal advice, childcare information and advice around children at any time.

    —  Training is locally based.

    —  Childcare is organised as an integral element of the course delivery.

    —  Group-based Personal Development is an integral part of the training.

    —  Training combines theory and practice using a combination of classroom based activity and work placement.

    —  Training is targetted at lone parents with a significant proportion being resident in priority areas.

    —  Completion of the SVQ Qualification can provide direct entry to HNC/HND level.

    —  Training and employment opportunities are designed to maximise income. Participants are offered a continuum from pre-vocational support, through a pre-employment/training gateway to vocational training or education and employment and in-work support.

    —  The courses provide well trained staff for growth sectors of the labour market.

  A major issue for lone parents is access to and the availability of jobs which pay enough to support a family from one wage. Customised initiatives to suit the particular barriers facing lone parents offers a key element of an integrated approach to lone parents needs to ensure a better deal for all one parent families. The One Plus model is but one example. A whole variety of initiatives developed the public and voluntary sector partnerships have been initiated across Scotland.

Marion Davies

11 September 2003

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 22 January 2004