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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
Jobs for lone parents
find out more about the new benefits on this page
Looking after the baby is a full-time job, say many lone parents
From this week, some single parents who are on benefits will be offered more money if they promise to start job hunting.

It's part of a trial which ties-in with the government's efforts to get more people off benefits and into work.

Around 800,000 lone parents live on benefits - and the plan is to target this group with extra benefits, worth up to 40 a week, to get them back to work.

But, will the scheme work?

  • Breakfast's Max Foster went to Chelmsford in Essex, where he talked to one group of single mums, with pre-school children.

  • We put their views - and yours - to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Alan Johnson.

    He told Breakfast there was no question of forcing reluctant mums back to work:

    "The parents in your package were saying they're not ready to look for work, and that's fine," he said. "But when they are ready, they'll need this."

    What you told Breakfast
    When you interviewed the lone mothers, where were the fathers? Why should men like me subsidise the irresponsibility of others?
    John, King's Lynn

    The new benefits are being piloted in eight areas across the UK - you can find out more on them at the bottom of this page.

    They will offer an extra 20 a week to lone parents to cover the cost of looking for a job - and 40 a week, non means-tested, for the first year of a new job.

    Pilot scheme

    The extra benefits are part of a pilot scheme which starts today across Great Britain (but not Northern Ireland).

    The full pilot scheme will run in eight towns and cities: Bradford, Cardiff and Vale, Dudley and Sandwell, Lancashire West, Leicestershire, London South East, London West and Edinburgh.

    To be eligible for the Worksearch Premium of 20 a week, you will need to have been on the New Deal for Parents and have been on benefits for more than a year.

    If you find a job, you could get an extra 40 a week in benefits, called an In-work credit, for the first year of your new job, as long as you work more than 16 hours a week.

    Four further areas will offer in-work credit alone: Central London, North London, Leeds and Staffordshire.

    The system of benefits for lone parents is very complicated, so if you want to know more it's best to talk to your local Jobcentre.

    Even if you're not eligible for the pilot scheme, you may still be able to get extra help to return to work.

  • What do you think of the new incentives for lone parents to go back to work? You can use this form to e-mail the Breakfast team direct

    Your E-mail address
    Where you live

    Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.

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    16 Aug 04  |  Business

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