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The Single Parent Action Network (SPAN) has today announced the number one worry for single parents currently, is the proposed new legislative change to the Work Programme, due for implementation early next year. As part of the Government’s new Work Programme, parents in receipt of Income Support will have to move to Job Seekers Allowance when their youngest child becomes 5 years old.

“Single parents experience a number of structural barriers to work, including access to affordable childcare and employment that is flexible enough for them to juggle time for being a parent,” explains Simon Bates, development director for SPAN. “As a result, changes to the Work Programme and how this will affect single parents has become the primary subject of concern for those visiting our website and parenting forum: www.onespace.org.uk specifically developed for families experiencing difficulties.”

“The government believes that work is the best route out of poverty for single parents,” confirms Bates. “At face value this is a difficult position to argue against and SPAN does not suggest that single parents should always be dependent on the benefits system. Rather, our concern is the implication that this has for parenting, motherhood, child welfare and social inclusion.

”Although it is estimated that six out of ten single parents are in work, one parent families have the greatest risk of poverty of any family type and the latest Household Below Average Income data shows that the risk of poverty for single parents remains at 29% when the parent works part-time and 21% where the parent works full-time,” continues Bates. “Research has also shown an increased risk of children’s social exclusion when their parent moves into work.

“A further concern regarding the forthcoming legislative change to the Work Programme, is that parents could have their benefits sanctioned if they are unable to take a job, or unable to find work that is flexible enough to take into consideration,” continues Bates. “Parents are worried this could result in the real risk that children will have to go without essential items.”

SPAN has responded by offering single parents a range of information to help them on www.onespace.org.uk. The site includes a searchable tool, 'Your Local Support' where parents can find out about organisations who can help them. Advice is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter as well as experts in family law, Child Support and a relationship counselor. There is a large online community of other single parents too, offering each other everything from supportive ear, to shared experiences that ensure that no one feels they are alone. Parents can also access free courses such as life skills, assertiveness and ways into work, all aimed at helping any parent to understand their work readiness as well as an online parenting course.

“With 42% of all poor children living in one-parent families, SPAN’s aim is to empower single parents through information, self-help support, training and education,” explains Bates. “In this way, we can work towards ensuring that families are free from poverty, low self-esteem and can access stepping stones into work.”

For more information please see: www.onespace.org.uk

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About SPAN

Single Parent Action Network is a uniquely diverse organisation empowering one parent families throughout the UK. SPAN gives a voice to one parent families from diverse backgrounds and cultures, often living in poverty and isolation. SPAN also supports the development of user-led one parent family groups as well as working with organisations and decision-making bodies to develop partnerships to improve policies for one parent families in the UK and internationally. See www.SPAN.org.uk

SPAN runs the website www.onespace.org.uk designed to be an online resource for single parents.

For further information please contact:

Mel Betts
Grapevine PR
01544 318546
Melanie.betts@grapevinepr.com

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