HC Deb 16 April 1996 vol 275 cc423-4W
Mr. Dover

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he is taking to help lone parents to work. [24840]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell

Successive improvements in family credit have been designed to assist lone parents to take work. The reduction in the qualifying hours to 16, the introduction of a maintenance disregard, the introduction of help with child care costs in family credit and the other in-work benefits are measures of particular importance to lone parents. Around 200,000 lone parents have moved from income support to family credit since 1992.

From this month, the child care disregard in the in-work benefits has been increased from £40 to £60 a week. Out-of-school child care provision will be extended by a further 18,000 places on top of the nearly 60,000 generated in the last three years. The back-to-work bonus and the child maintenance bonus will be introduced in October 1996 and April 1997 respectively. They will encourage part-time work and provide opportunities to build up a tax-free lump sum on leaving benefit for work. Also in April 1997, a major new pilot will commence, providing training and employment opportunities to up to 25,000 lone parents.