New Deal (Lone Parents)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 12th November 2001.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 2:30 pm, 12th November 2001

My hon. Friend knows that the new deal for lone parents has been very successful. The problem has been that there are still too many lone parents who, because the scheme was voluntary, did not come and find out what was on offer. Therefore, the Government have introduced regulations that will progressively require lone parents, beginning with those with older children and moving on to those with children of down to the age of five, to come in for interview and to find out what options are available to them under the new deal. If people live in one of the areas covered by one of the new Jobcentre Plus offices, they must go in to receive advice as a condition of receiving benefit and will therefore know what the new deal has to offer.

The more people who know about the new deal for lone parents, the easier it will be to get people into work. I remind the House that the number of lone parents on benefit has steadily fallen in the past five years. Our job is to ensure that we move progressively towards our target of 70 per cent. of lone parents in work.