Headlines: March 7th, 2003

A voluntary scheme which advises lone parents on how to get back into work doubles their chances of finding jobs according to new independent research. The National Centre for Social Research interviewed around 2,500 parents to measure the success of the New Deal For Lone Parents scheme.The study also found that the scheme dramatically increased the rate at which lone parents leave Income Support. The findings have been welcomed by the Minister for Work, Nick Brown who said the clear success of NDLP should help to convince more people to volunteer to take part.

Researchers found that lone parents who join the scheme rate it highly and particularly value the NDLP advisers and the help and support they provide. The majority of lone parents had an in-work benefit calculation carried out by their adviser, which showed how much better off they would be financially in work. Advisers offer a range of other help and information to do with getting back to work, including dealing with queries about local job vacancies and childcare. They also provide support and guidance once lone parents have found jobs.

Mr. Brown said that since 1997, the employment rate for lone parents had increased dramatically and was now more than 50 per cent for the first time. The introduction of NDLP in 1998, he said, had been a major factor in that rise.