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Single parent 'myths' condemned
A think tank has been accused of putting forward "misleading and inaccurate myths" after publishing a report saying that almost one in four single-parent households were not in work.
Policy Exchange said the average single parent household claimed twice as much in benefit support as the average two-parent household.
The proportion of lone parent households in the UK is the fourth highest in the European Union, said the report.
Matthew Tinsley, the report's author, said: "Raising a child is a huge responsibility regardless of your living arrangements. All parents, especially young single mothers, need support. It is right that the Government extended free childcare.
"However, it is also right to ask more from people to find a job. Simply relying on benefits when you are physically and mentally able to work is not fair. Policy-makers must do more to help the two thirds of a million unemployed single parents find a job.
"Such action would significantly boost the UK economy and help find further savings in the welfare budget."
Fiona Weir, chief executive of single parent charity Gingerbread, said: " We welcome this report's focus on the vital issue of increasing single parent employment, and support the call for greater into-work support for single parents, who we know are highly motivated to work.
"However, much of this is lost in some of the report's muddled interpretation of statistics, which perpetuate misleading and inaccurate myths about single parents. While the report does identify the need for more skills training for single parents, it misses the other key barriers to work for single parents: childcare, a shortage of family-friendly jobs and making work pay."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "At a time when single parents are more likely to be in work than ever before, Policy Exchange is proposing a draconian policy of forcing those with small children to look for work.
"If couples are allowed to decide how they care for pre-school children - with one parent possibly choosing to stay at home - so too should lone parents.
"What parents really need, whether they are single, divorced, married or in a relationship, is decent pay, more flexible work and affordable childcare so they can better combine work with their caring responsibilities. Until this becomes a reality these proposals will simply condemn even more single parents and their children to a life of poverty."