Unemployed lone parents are to be offered affordable childcare
for up to 12 hours a day in a scheme designed to help them get back
to work, work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith announced,
writes Amy Taylor.
Smith said that the school-based childcare would be available
from 7am to 7pm for 50 weeks of the year to give lone parents the
chance to work.
The pilot scheme, which begins in April, will take place in
Bradford and the London boroughs of Lewisham and Haringey – areas
the government has identified as lacking in childcare. The
Department for Work and Pensions is providing £4 million
towards the scheme.
Smith also unveiled plans for pilot payments to give lone
parents more money while they are job hunting. The work search
premium will give lone parents, who have been on benefit for more
than one year, £20 extra a week for up to six months if they
agree to look for work. The in-work credit will pay lone parents,
who get jobs of more than 16 hours a week, an extra £40 a week
for the first year they are in work.
Both payments will start in October 2004 and will be piloted in
eight areas – Bradford, Cardiff and Vale, Dudley and Sandwell,
Lancashire west, Leicestershire, London south east, London west,
and Edinburgh. In-work credit will be piloted separately in central
London, Leeds, north London and Staffordshire.