Single parent group calls for more jobs to help cut benefits bill
A Westcountry MP has backed a campaign to boost employment among single parents, potentially saving the Government hundreds of millions of pounds.
Almost a third of single parents in Stephen Gilbert's St Austell and Newquay constituency are single, with an estimated two in five not in work.
The Liberal Democrat has lent his support to a campaign by Gingerbread, a charity for single parents, to get a quarter of a million single parents back in to work by 2020.
The charity estimates that by getting 5% more single people back in to work the treasury could save £436 million.
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Mr Gilbert said: "Any parent wants to be able to provide for their family, and we should be doing all that we can to help single parents do just that.
"Times are tough for many families at the moment and it's essential that we do all we can to ensure that work always pays and offers a route out of poverty for vulnerable families."
Gingerbread's three-year campaign –make it work for single parents – is calling on the Government to make a commitment to increasing single parent employment.
The charity says that three in five single parents are in work, but the majority of those that aren't want to be.
However, almost a quarter of single parents who manage to find work are out of work again within a year, and more than 300,000 children in working single parent family are still in poverty.
It is estimated that 1.16 million children in the UK grow up in single parent families.
Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: "Single parents are highly motivated to work but face significant barriers including childcare costs and a shortage of family-friendly jobs that pay a decent wage. They need not only specialist support in the job centre, but a more flexible approach from employers and greater childcare support."
She added: "Successive governments have recognised that getting single parents into work is vital if we're going to tackle child poverty, reduce the number of children growing up in homes where no one works, and cut the cost of the benefits bill.
"Yet years of political rhetoric have made very little practical difference to hundreds of thousands of single parents, who are desperate to lift their families out of poverty and be a role model for their children."