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DPB reforms helping more sole parents into work

1 October 2004

DPB reforms helping more sole parents into work

Increasing numbers of sole parent beneficiaries are being helped off benefits and into work under the Domestic Purposes and Widows benefit reforms, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

In November 1999, when Labour came to power, 104,199 sole parents were claiming the DPB. At the end of July 2004, the number was down to 101,614, despite increasing numbers of women of childbearing age.

“The proportion of sole parents leaving benefit for work has increased from 19% in March 1997 to 36% in March 2004,” Steve Maharey said. “This positive shift is a direct result of the government’s introduction in March 2003 of a new way of working with sole parents that recognises the importance of parenting.

“We abolished the old rules that meant the age of the youngest child determined whether sole parents on the DPB were work tested. The figures speak for themselves – the new approach is delivering results for sole parent families.

“Most people on DPB and Widows Benefit must now participate in a comprehensive planning process that focuses on education, training, and steps towards employment.

“The Working for Families package announced in the Budget will make it even more attractive for people to move off benefits and into work.

“At the same time we recognise that it’s important to find a balance between parenting and work. That is why the package offers increased childcare assistance rates and income thresholds, higher Accommodation Supplement rates and income thresholds as well as more generous abatement regimes for Family Income Assistance.

“A new In-work payment has also been introduced that will ease the transition for people moving off benefit into work.

“The Government’s reform of DPB has meant that everyone is now getting help in planning for an independent future, not just those who were work-tested because of the age of their children. Today, everyone on the DPB is required to think about their future and take active steps towards improving their circumstances.”

ENDS

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