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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Single parents 'better working'
Toddler in childcare
Single parents returning to work have an extra 100 a week
Single parents taking up a job are 100 a week better off than those living on benefits, a study has found.

The findings appear to contradict a common belief returning to work brings a negligible amount of extra money, the recruitment firm Reed said.

Staff who carried out the study in Doncaster said they were surprised by the results.

The government is trying to encourage single parents back into work by providing support, such as childcare.

They can get an extra 100 in the family purse each week
Kaye Rideout, Reed

Recruitment firm Reed is working on government employment programmes in Glasgow, Liverpool and areas of London.

"With the new government tax credits and help with child care, single parents who forego benefits and get back into employment can have an extra 100 a week to spend," said Reed managing director Chris Melvin.

But Debbie Bruce, a spokeswoman for Gingerbread, the UK's leading support organisation for lone parent families, said she was surprised by the figure.

'Poorest families'

"If you are on the minimum wage, you live in London, you have to pay for high childcare costs and the housing is the most expensive in the country you may find you're actually 10 worse off a week," she said.

"Alternatively you may be 10 better off but there is not much in it.

"I would say it's a small percentage of professional single parents who earn 100 extra a week - or more.

"You may find most of those are working fulltime. They work a lot or hours and probably do a lot of work at home."

There is still a big proportion of mums who have never worked and have just stayed at home
Debbie Bruce, Gingerbread

Ms Bruce said the poorest families were those headed by a single parent.

"Most single parents are either divorced or separated, while teenage mothers make up just 3% of the total.

"There is still a big proportion of mums who have never worked and have just stayed at home.

"Often they married young and 15 to 20 years down the line they find themselves alone and they haven't got any skills.

"They are the people who find it most difficult and most need training and education.

"We would like more emphasis on this by the government."

The employment programme, aimed at helping 30,000 single parents find a job in the next five years, includes job searches, training and advice on childcare.

Kaye Rideout, who manages Reed's Doncaster single parents initiative, said: "A few years ago, we would sit down with single mums and dads and work out how much better off they would be moving into employment.

"Sometimes the difference would be just an extra 5. Now, with all the government help available, they can get an extra 100 in the family purse each week."

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