HC Deb 07 June 2004 vol 422 cc9-10
5. Helen Jones (Warrington. North) (Lab)

How many women in Warrington, North have benefited from the new deal for lone parents since its introduction. [177315]

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Andrew Smith)

In my hon. Friend's constituency, 390 women have taken part in the new deal for lone parents and 220 have so far been helped into work. That is part of the progress across the country that has resulted, for the first time, in more than half of lone parents being in jobs, that has lifted children out of poverty and saved the taxpayer £40 million a year.

Helen Jones

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that reply. Many of the women whom I have met who have taken part in the new deal for lone parents are grateful for the work that they have obtained as a result, but I ask my right hon. Friend now to examine the needs of women after they have got jobs under the scheme, because they may need help to develop their careers. They may need information about their rights at work, about courses that they could take and so on, so that not only are they in jobs but they have careers. Will my right hon. Friend undertake to look into what can be done to assist lone parents once they have gone back to work?

Mr. Smith

I thank my hon. Friend for her welcome for the progress that the new deal is making in her constituency and for her advocacy of it. The new deal for lone parents is already making a difference on the issues connected with progress at work that she is concerned about: those who get jobs through the new deal are 15 per cent. more likely to stay in work than those who get jobs in similar circumstances in other ways. The preparation, the training and support and the personal advice are already making a difference. The further expansion of child care, with places for an additional 2 million children by 2006, and the work of the new child care partnerships, coupled with skills and training advice and workplace rights, are, I believe, the building blocks of the sort of flexible and responsive system that my hon. Friend and I both want to see, and towards which we are making progress.

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West) (Con)

The Secretary of State will know that one of the main causes for concern about the new deal is that so many people, tens of thousands, have been through it twice, three times or more. How many of the women in Warrington, North who have been helped by the new deal for lone parents have been through the scheme more than once?

Mr. Smith

I would have to check that statistic, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, North (Helen Jones) said, the 220 women who have gained jobs—a significant proportion of those who took part in the programme—welcome those jobs and are more likely to stay in them because they have had the help given by the new deal. Their biggest anxiety would be the Conservative party's plans to scrap it.