Single parents could face benefits cut

Single parents whose youngest child is aged seven or over will have to undertake job hunting activities in order to qualify for benefits from October 2010 under new government proposals.

The plans would be introduced in two stages with the age of the youngest child being brought down to 12 from October 2008.

Currently single parents can claim Income Support up until their youngest child reaches 16. Under the proposals those who are no longer eligible may be able to transfer to Job Seekers Allowance which requires people to look for work in order to qualify for the benefit.

“Forcing long parents to face benefit sanctions when their children are still at primary school is outrageous. Taking money away from families that are already poor will worsen poverty for many people and put their health and wellbeing at risk,” said Child Poverty Action Group’s chief executive Kate Green.

The proposals come in a new green paper outlining a raft of reforms to benefits and services to help people into work .

The government first proposed ending single parents’s eligibility for Income Support when their youngest child reached 12 rather than 16 in its refreshed child poverty strategy, Working for Children, in March.

This came after David Freud, the banker commissioned by the government to review its welfare to work policies, put forward the idea in his March report.

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