This report presents findings from an impact assessment of Lone Parent Obligations (LPO). LPO was introduced in November 2008 and since then lone parents have lost eligibility to Income Support (IS), based on the age of their youngest child, solely on the grounds of being a lone parent. In May 2012, the age of the youngest child was reduced to five and over.
The impact assessment is part of a comprehensive evaluation of LPO that has explored whether and how lone parent employment interventions provide an effective incentive to look for paid employment, alongside an effective package of support for workless lone parents to enable them to find, enter and sustain paid employment. The impact assessment quantifies the impact of LPO by providing estimates of how many lone parents were moved off out-of-work benefits and into work as a result of LPO. It examines the impact of LPO on lone parents in the earlier phases of LPO, who lost entitlement to IS between November 2008 and the end of June 2011, at a time when their youngest child was at least seven-years-old.
The impact assessment found that LPO has had a much greater impact on moving lone parents into work than other previous Departmental employment programmes and initiatives aimed at lone parents. Three months after the loss of IS entitlement, LPO is estimated to have reduced the share of lone parents receiving any out-of-work benefit by between 11 and 13 percentage points, and to have increased the share in work by around 7 percentage points. Nine months after, the share receiving any out-of-work benefit had fallen further, to between a 13 and 16 percentage point reduction, and the share in work had increased to between eight and ten percentage points.
The focus of the impact assessment is on movement off benefit and into work, among those claiming IS. It does not account for the impact on new or repeat lone parent claimants, which was beyond the scope of this analysis.