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Areas for research on apprenticeships

By Bryan Stevens,2014-07-11 16:37
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Areas for research on apprenticeships ...

In work, better off: next steps to

    full employment

YWCA is the leading charity working with the most disadvantaged young women

    in England and Wales. Young women face unique problems in today’s society.

    They are largely unheard and lack influence. We want a future where they can

    overcome prejudice and take charge of their own lives. We run services to

    support them and campaign with them to combat the discrimination they face.

    YWCA welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation. We work with

    many young lone mothers. Young mothers aged 16-24 account for 7% of all lone 1parent families. We have been campaigning for better skills and work

    opportunities for disadvantaged young women as part of our campaign, ‘More

    than one rung’ http://www.ywca.org.uk/morethanonerung/. This draws

    attention to the fact that, despite their potential, thousands of disadvantaged

    young women are trapped on the bottom rung of the career ladder.

Main points:

    ? YWCA favours the use of carrots over sticks to increase lone parent

    employment. We congratulate the Government on their success to date,

    which has largely been a result of financial incentives, childcare and

    flexible working policies.

    ? We are very concerned about proposals to reduce lone parents entitlement

    to Income Support from when their youngest child is aged 12 and

    eventually 7. We feel this is inappropriate and will be ineffective.

    ? As the majority of lone parents are women, 90%, they will overwhelmingly

    be affected. This is not recognised in the document.

    ? We are against any proposals to sanction lone mothers, whose children

    face a 50% risk of being in poverty, compared to a 23% risk for children in

    two parent families. We are especially concerned about the sanctioning of

    younger lone mothers who receive lower benefit rates than those over 25.

    ? We feel that the existing proposals are rigid and punitive. We feel that a

    much better system of support lies in that available for those with a

    sickness or disability.

    ? It is vital that lone mothers are able to enter well-paid employment.

    Tackling stereotypes and making lone mothers aware of pay differentials

    in different sectors should be a central commitment of the adult careers

    service. Quality training, including apprenticeships, will also be essential.

    ? The government should make the right to request flexible working

    available to parents of children of all ages.

     1 Escott, K. and Buckner, L. (2006) ‘Young women’s employment: growing up poor in England and Wales’, Oxford, YWCA England & Wales

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    Question 1: At the moment, lone parents are entitled to Income Support until their youngest child is 16. Is it right that this age should be reduced?

YWCA congratulates the government on their success to date in supporting lone

    parents into work. We feel that support through financial incentives, flexible

    working policies and increased availability and affordability of childcare is the

    most effective way to increase lone parent employment rates.

We are very concerned that lone parents may be forced into work through a

    removal of entitlement to Income Support when their youngest child is 12 and

    eventually 7. We feel that this would be both inappropriate and ineffective.

Firstly, the value of lone parent’s caring responsibilities has to be recognized. In

    some cases caring responsibilities can increase as children get older and enter

    youth. We are also concerned that childcare services for older children are 2 sparse.

    Secondly, increasing the caseload of advisors could result in decreasing the

    overall effectiveness of the programme by increasing time pressures on them. It

    could also hamper the personal advisor-client relationship, which is often

    positively referred to by lone mothers. Trials of a Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)

    type regime for lone parents, whereby attendance at the Jobcentre every two

    weeks and engagement in work search was rewarded by a ?20 ‘work search

    premium’ resulted in scepticism: “The conditionality associated with WSP [Work

    Search Premium] is viewed as a deterrent for many lone parents and an 3administrative burden by advisers.”

Thirdly, we feel that the differing approach to lone mothers, partners of the

    unemployed and second earners serves to stigmatise lone mothers. Second

    earners and partners of the unemployed do not face the same pressures to enter

    work. This disparity is unfair and labelling.

It is also unfair to expect lone mothers to enter work when childcare is lacking,

    when they are not better off in work and when jobs with flexible working

    arrangements are not available. We appreciate that the Government has done a

    lot to make progress in these areas but we are still aware of problems on the

    ground.

These proposals will overwhelmingly affect women as over 90% of lone parents

    are mothers. This is not recognised in the report, which is very gender neutral.

    The only reference to women is in reference to increasing the employment rates

    of Bangladeshi and Pakistani women.

    Question 2: What would the minimum age be?

We feel that a lone parent should not be expected to enter work until they are in

    a position to do so. This means ensuring that their needs are met. Despite the

    government’s recent efforts, a lack of flexible working opportunities, low pay and

    a lack of quality, affordable childcare, especially for older children, remain

    barriers to lone mothers employment. In light of this we believe it is right to

    stick to the existing arrangement whereby lone mothers can remain on income

    support until their youngest is aged 16.

     2 Haux T (2007) Lone parents with older children and welfare reform CASP Working Paper CASP, University of Bath, available at: http://www.bath.ac.uk/casp/assets/LoneParentst.pdf 3 Hosain M and Breen E (2007) New Deal Plus for Lone Parents Qualitative Evaluation Department for Work and Pensions research report no. 426 CDS.

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Question 3: Should we do more to ensure that our support for lone parents is

    accessible and useful for all groups, in particular those with disabled children and

    those from certain disadvantaged groups and areas?

Particular issues around accessibility may include language difficulties, transport

    and literacy problems, especially for the most disadvantaged. Evidence suggests

    that outreach work, going out to where lone parents are in the community, via

    children’s centers, schools and voluntary and community organisations can be

    effective in engaging lone parents. It may be helpful to consult lone mothers on

    the barriers they face in accessing services and how useful they find information.

    Engaging them in this way could also serve to build relationships locally.

Question 4: More frequent Work Focused Interviews are currently offered to

    lone parents in the two years before their eligibility to Income Support is lost. As

    the age of the youngest child is reduced, should other forms of support be

    provided, and over what period prior to loss of eligibility?

YWCA is very concerned about the effect of moving lone mothers onto Jobseekers

    Allowance. While lone parents must currently attend the Jobcentre for a Work

    Focused Interview twice a year, and quarterly from when their youngest child is

    twelve, JSA claimants must attend interviews fortnightly. While lone parents can

    be sanctioned for failure to attend, losing twenty per cent of their benefit, JSA

    claimants can lose their entire benefit for failure to attend, failure to carry out a

    Jobseeker’s Direction, for failing to avail themselves of employment, and for

    voluntarily leaving employment in the first place. This could put lone mothers and

    their children at an even greater risk of poverty and would fail DWP’s child

    poverty proof test. We are particularly concerned about the effect this could have

    on younger lone mothers who receive lower benefit rates than older mothers and 4 who are 3 times more likely to be poor than mothers in their 30’s.

    We feel that the suggested arrangements are too rigid, with support only being

    available after a set time period. For example, it seems that the skills check and

    access to the adult careers service and training are only available from the

    Gateway stage i.e. once a lone mother has been on Jobseekers Allowance for 6

    months. We feel greater flexibility is needed to enable lone mothers to access this

    support when they are ready to, without placing other work-related requirements

    on them that form part of the Gateway stage. In particular, access to the careers

    service may help a lone mother to explore the options open to her under less

    time pressure, and thereby help her find a job she is more likely to stick with. We

    are concerned that existing proposals suggest that lone mothers will have to limit

    their job search to focus on wage, travel to work and hours rather than

    employment preference, after just 3 months of being on JSA.

Question 5: For lone parents who move onto Jobseeker’s Allowance when they

    lose Income Support eligibility, what forms of support (in addition to those

    provided to Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants who are not lone parents) should be

    available, and over what timescale?

    We feel that a much better system of support into employment lies in that

    available for those with a sickness or disability. This would mean that:

    ? Rather than being asked to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, new lone parent

    benefit claimants would claim Income Support but be asked to complete a

    work focused interview at 8 weeks whereby any conditions making it

    difficult to engage in employment (bereavement, disability issues,

    domestic violence) would be assessed. These parents would be asked to

     4 Mayhew, E. and Bradshaw, J. (2005) Mothers, babies and the risks of poverty. Poverty, 121, 13-16

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    return for a further interview after six months to assess whether these

    constraints still exist.

    ? After three months lone parents would be automatically caseloaded onto

    the New Deal for Lone Parents, and, asked to attend monthly Work

    Focused Interviews and undertake work related activity.

    ? After six months of NDLP participation (nine months of claim), parents

    would be referred to a specialist provider who would have greater flexibility

    around work related activity.