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Lone Parents and Social Policy: Developments in the EU and Beyond Nov 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Lone Parents and Social Policy: Developments in the EU and Beyond Nov 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lone Parents and Social Policy: Developments in the EU and Beyond Nov 2010

2  Growth in number of lone parents families across EU  Still definition issues  Route into lone parenthood differs – as does length of time spent as a lone parent  20% of European children live in single-parent households  their poverty risk is almost twice as high as the average poverty risk for all children (34% against 19)

3 Lone parents and paid work  The great majority of single parents are women who find it difficult to keep their place in the labour market and remain independent from welfare payments.  The welfare regimes within each country have different institutional arrangements and employment and benefit systems.  A number of countries, especially those with low lone parent employment rates, have either introduced work- related requirements or reinforced existing requirements for those lone parents claiming out-of-work benefits.  Pre recession in UK – 56.5% of women single parents in Labour market – 71.4% of mothers in a couple family

4  A study of 22 OECD countries reported that in 2000 lone parents with children below school age were exempt from work requirements in only seven of them (Bradshaw and Finch, 2002).  OECD (2007) comparative data - several countries without work requirements had since started to requiring recipients with children above specified ages to seek work

5 No Work Test Work Test Independent of child age (applied at discretion of Case managers and subject to childcare availability) Work Test Dependent on child age (age limit in years)(range of state variations in Canada and the US) PortugalSpain Source: OECD (2007) Babies and Bosses – Policies towards reconciling work and family life, aSynthesis of Findings for OECD Countries. Paris: OECD, updated from Table 4.6, p.88. Belgium – discretion Denmark – subject to childcareFinland Japan – discretion Netherlands – increased to five from 2009 Sweden Ireland – 18 or 22 if child in full-time education New Zealand – 16 United Kingdom – seven from 2010 Australia – seven from 2006 Luxembourg – six Canada – 0.5 to six Czech Republic – four Austria – about three France – three Germany – three Norway – three Switzerland – three United States – 0.25 to one

6 Rationale for Changes  Reduction in out-of-work benefit dependency among lone parent families  An increase in the employment and earnings of such families and a reduction in child poverty and related improvement in child well-being.  Some also have ambitions to secure attitudinal change among lone parents and their children towards employment, the benefit system and family responsibilities.

7 Does work pay?  Prevalence of in work poverty – 13% average but prevalence of in work poverty 20%+ in Spain, Poland and Portugal.  Single earner families – whether 1or 2 parents more at risk of poverty.  Model of two bread winners prevails for two thirds of children in EU

8 Characteristics of lone parents not in work – UK  Having a child under 5  Having 3 or more children  Being single rather than divorced or separated  Having a health problem  Not having any qualifications  Not having any recent work experience  Not looking to move into work

9 Main barriers  Preference for staying at home  Childcare issues  Lack of confidence  Personal health or childs  Financial issue s- concerns about not being better off  Employment conditions- lack of flexibility  Lack of skills and qualifications  Wanting to spend time with children came out consistently as main reason

10 Sanctions  US success? Yes- but temporary? + growth in the number of families ‘disconnected’ from the system. Proportion of lone mothers with no welfare or work income reported in the previous year increased from 10 per cent in 1990 to 19.6 per cent in 2004  Netherlands – Since then the implementation work-related requirements has varied. Despite the existence of increased job search requirements for over a decade, the employment rate of lone parents has remained comparatively low + Staff reluctant to apply sanctions  Evidence from several countries, including GB, suggests that sanctions are experienced disproportionately by more disadvantaged lone parents, such as those that have, for example, poor literacy levels, or that typically they spend longer on benefits (Finn and Gloster, 2010).  In Sweden, by contrast, the expectation that most parents should work is longstanding and the employment rate of lone parents is among the highest in the OECD *importance of social, economic and cultural contexts + attitudes to roles of women and men and gender equality *importance of social, economic and cultural contexts + attitudes to roles of women and men and gender equality

11 Retention and Progression  Yeo (2007) findings from six countries indicated that those who are closest to the labour market are more likely to enter stable employment quickly – those further from the labour market are more likely to enter low paid and part-time employment with fewer prospects of advancement.  Analysis of experimental data from the US and Canada also found that disadvantaged lone parents were less likely to secure stable employment than the least disadvantaged  Need for progression – evidence across a range of studies, including analysis of British Lone Parent Cohort (employment trajectories 560 lone mothers Stewart, 2009 ‘shows that policies which foster sustainability and progression are at least as important as those which help women into work in the first place

12  Impact of recession on women’s employment (Rake, 2009)  Many women already in more vulnerable sectors of labour market  Employers may be less willing to have policies which support women with children working (flexible work, childcare on site

13 References  Bradshaw and Finch,N (2002) Bradshaw, J. and Finch, N. (2002), A Comparison of Child Benefit Packages in 22 Countries, Research Report No. 174, London: Department for Work and Pensions.  Finn,D and Gloster, R (2010) Lone Parent Obligations: A review of recent evidence on the work-related requirements within the benefit systems of different countries. Report 632. London: DWP  Rake,K and Rothereo,A (2009) Are Women Bearing the Burden of the Recession? London: Fawcett Society  Stewart, K (2009)’Employment and Wage Trajectories for Mothers Entering Low Skilled Work: evidence from the British Lone Parent Cohort’, Social Policy and Administration, 43,5,  Yeo,A (2007) Experience of Work and Job Retention among Lone Parents: An Evidence Review. Working Paper, 37, London: DWP


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