Lone parents and welfare-to-work reform: A policy appraisal

  • Tina Haux

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The current welfare-to-work reform in Britain is activating lone parents with older children and marks a step-change in the treatment of lone parents. While there has been some support for using age of child as selection criterion for the activation of lone parents, it is not clear whether this equates to selecting by ‘ability to work’ if interpreted as ability to obtain a job. The commitment of the current government to evidence-based-policy-making and the large amount of research available in this area form the justification for carrying out a policy appraisal of this aspect of the current welfare-to-work reform. The potential and likelihood to make substantial progress towards the lone parent employment and the child poverty target of the selection criteria will be assessed and compared to alternative approaches. Five selection models are identified in the international policy review: selection by age of child, transition status, employability or by caseworkers and finally, a voluntary model. The analysis is based on a critical discussion of the available evidence, an international policy review and secondary analysis of the Families and Children Study. I argue that the current approach of selecting lone parents by the age of child is unlikely to result in substantial progress towards the lone parent employment target and instead likely to create a substantial group of long-term unemployed lone parents. Alternative approaches, such as using different selection criteria that take into account the employability of lone parents are more likely to make progress towards the employment and child poverty target.
Date of Award1 Jul 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJane Millar (Supervisor) & Susan Harkness (Supervisor)


  • lone parents
  • comparative
  • FACS
  • evidence-based policy making
  • activation
  • labour
  • welfare-to-work

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