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Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) for what reasons the decision was taken not to use the local jobcentres in the London borough of Tower Hamlets to deliver the employment zone and the working neighbourhood pilot; 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking for what reasons the decision was taken not to use the local jobcentres in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to deliver the Employment Zone and the Working Neighbourhood Pilot; and how jobcentre staff in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets were given the opportunity to compete with the private sector to provide job seeking services. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
In 1997 the then Employment Service was given the opportunity to compete to deliver the Employment Zone in Tower Hamlets, but decided not to submit an in-house bid. Instead, it formed a consortium with Manpower and Ernst & Young called Working Links' to provide a public/private partnership. This provided Jobcentre staff in Tower Hamlets with the opportunity of applying for secondment to work for Working Links.
Employment Zone contractors used their own premises to deliver their business. They were offered space within Jobcentre offices and most took the decision to provide a small presence for a first point of contact before referring customers to their own premises.
The criteria allowing lone parents to qualify for income support have principally remained unchanged since 1988 in that the customer would, in addition to being a lone parent, also have to satisfy other conditions
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of entitlement common to all claimants. The criteria for claiming income support as a lone parent did see substantial change when Work Focused Interviews were introduced in August 2000.
The Work Focused Interview for Lone Parent (LPWFI) regulations require lone parents to participate in a Work Focused Interview at the outset of their claim. From October 2005 lone parents are also required to attend a Work Focused Interview once every three months when their youngest child is aged 14 or over, to help them prepare for the transition to JSA once their child reaches 16 years and avoid drift onto incapacity Benefit.
While the introduction of LPWFI presented a major change to the criteria for claiming the benefit, income support has continued to evolve to meet the needs of all the people it provides for. Many changes introduced on income support have not been exclusive to lone parents, though along with other client groups they have continued to benefit from the enhancements made to the benefit; such as Mortgage Interest Run-On (MIRO) or the recent introduction of Child Maintenance Premium (CMP).
|1993||The introduction of the Child Support Agency (CSA) sought to ensure absent parents met the financial responsibilities for their children.|
|1997||Introduction of Child Maintenance Bonus payments on movement into full-time work, of 16 or more hours a week.|
|Launch of New Deal for Lone Parents (NDLP) in eight prototype areas.|
|Standard amount payable for Dependant Children|
|Significant increase to the amount of Dependants Allowance.|
|1998||Lone parent premium in Income Support and One Parent Benefit abolished for lone parents making a new claim.|
|Childcare disregard increased to £100 where two or more children are eligible (children up to age 12).|
|NDLP implemented nationally.|
|Improved provision for work-related training within NDLP.|
|Introduction of linking rule to preserve benefit entitlement for breaks of up to 12 weeks.|
|1999||Family Credit replaced with Working Families' Tax Credit to supplement the income of working parents.|
|Introduction of National Minimum Wage.|
|Lone Parent Benefit Run-On (LPRO) introducedsubsequently replaced by the two levels of Job Grant in October 2004, which ensure the financial assistance available to assist customers in their transition from benefits into work is more equitable for all benefit recipients.|
|2000||Work Focused Interview target group extended to those with a youngest child aged three or over (formerly aged five and three months or over).|
|Introduction of compulsory Personal Adviser meetings in three 'pathfinder' areas.|
|Introduction of In-Work Training Grant pilots for those already in employment.|
|2001||Target set to get 70 per cent. of lone parents into work by 2010.|
|National introduction of compulsory Personal Adviser meetings for new and repeat claimants and existing claimants with youngest child 1315 years.|
|Extension of NDLP to all non-working lone parents and to those working fewer than 16 hours (regardless of whether claiming benefits).|
|Extension of Work-Based Learning for Adults to lone parents aged 1824.|
|Basic skills screening introduced at initial NDLP interview.|
|Adviser Discretion Fund replaces Jobseeker's Grant for lone parents.|
|Introduction of Jobcentre Plus.|
|Self employment option is available for NDLP from autumn 2001.|
|2002||Outreach to increase participation in voluntary NDP/NDLP.|
|Personal advisor (PA) meetings extended further with roll-out to existing one parent claimants with youngest child aged 912 and new/repeat clients with youngest child aged three and above.|
|Compulsory six monthly PA review meetings in pathfinder areas and for all new lone parent claimants nationally.|
|Full national roll out of Jobcentre Plus.|
|12-monthly review meetings for existing lone parent claimants introduced.|
|2003||New Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credits begin.|
|Mandatory PA meetings extended to new and repeat lone parent claimants of IS with children under 3 and to existing claimants with youngest children aged 58 years.|
|2004||Mandatory PA meetings extended to cover more frequent interviews.|
|Extended WFI regulations ensuring all lone parents on income support are covered.|
|A new mentoring service across the country tailored specifically for lone parents.|
|The development (working closely with employers) of a targeted communications strategy in six metropolitan areas, to supplement existing national and local advertising campaigns.|
|Discovery Week pilots in six major metropolitan areas to boost soft skills and knowledge of help available.|
|Childcare taster pilots from April 2004.|
|The introduction of a new £20 per week Work Search Premium in 8 pilot areas and new £40 per week In-Work Credit in 12 pilot areas available to lone parents who have been on income support for 12 months or more.|
|A new flexible fund for debt advisory services.|
|Lone parents joining Employment Zones.|
|2005||The Pathways to Work for Lone Parents pilot was launched, bringing together extra support and childcare help with added financial incentives for lone parents to look for and move into work.|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of lone parents are in employment; what work search responsibilities apply to lone parents with teenage children; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: Since 1997 the lone parent employment rate has increased by 11 percentage points to 56.6 per cent. In May 2005 there were 787,000 people claiming lone parent benefits, down from 1,013,500 in May 1997.
New deal for lone parents (NDLP) is a voluntary programme, which is available to lone parents who are not working, or working less than 16 hours a week. They must be aged 16 or over and have a dependent child under 16 years of age. Under NDLP, lone parents are offered support and financial incentives via Personal Advisers, who can help their customers identify and deal with any barriers preventing them from moving into work.
Lone parents in receipt of income support are required to participate in a Work Focused Interview at the outset of their claim. From October 2005 lone parents are also required to attend a Work Focused Interview once every three months when their youngest
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child is aged 14 or over, to help them prepare for the transition to JSA once their child reaches 16 years and avoid drift onto incapacity benefit.
The condition of entitlement to IS as a lone parent ceases once their youngest child reaches age 16. At this stage, if they are not in work and wish to continue to receive benefit, they must claim jobseeker's allowance or, if they have a health problem,
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