Department for Work and Pensions
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New support to help workless families and improve children’s lives

New plans to help workless families break the cycle of disadvantage have been announced, as part of building a fairer society.

Research shows the profound impact that parents who are workless, and experiencing a range of associated problems, can have on children’s chances of success. The new analysis shows children in workless families are almost twice as likely to not reach the expected level at all stages of their education. Three quarters of children from families where no one works failed to reach the expected level at GCSE, compared to around half of children in lower-income working families.

An estimated 300,000 workless families are potentially affected by conflict between parents. Research also suggests that children’s emotional, behavioural and educational success are strongly influenced by their parents’ relationship. Children whose parents are in long-term, unresolved conflict with one another – whether or not their parents are together – are less likely to do well in school and in adulthood. A child is also more likely to do well if they have a close, supportive relationship with their father and this is made more difficult when separated parents are in conflict. Only half of children in separated families see their non-resident parent every fortnight or more.

To help address one of these root causes of disadvantage, the government is today announcing an innovative new programme, backed by £30 million, to help parents resolve conflict and improve children’s chances of succeeding in life.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green, said:

I don’t want any child to be defined by the circumstances of their birth. Every child should benefit from a strong relationship between their parents – whether they are together or separated.

Today marks the start of new support to help families overcome the problems they face to make sure that every child can go as far as their talents will take them.

The new support announced today by the government aims to change the way local services are delivered to support struggling families. To help address the range of problems that workless families face, the government is setting out details of the next phase of the Troubled Families Programme, including more emphasis on helping parents into work.

The government has already made substantial progress in this area – the number of children in workless households is down 590,000 since 2010 – but there is still more work to be done to help unemployed parents who face complex problems. In 2014 to 2015, 1 in 8 UK children were in families where no one was in work.

This new approach forms part of plans to do more to turn Britain into a country where success is defined by work and talent, not birth or circumstance.

‘Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families’ published today is the first in a series of initiatives aimed at tackling the problems that prevent families from getting on in life. Another announcement in the paper includes enhancing the role of Jobcentre Plus in working with local partners to tackle collectively the multiple disadvantages facing unemployed individuals in a better, more joined-up way.

As recommended by Dame Carol Black in her independent review into the impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addiction, and obesity, the following proposals have also been announced:

  • a trial of the Individual and Placement Support approach to help people addicted to drugs and alcohol back into employment
  • a new network of peer mentors to act as trusted role models for people with drugs and alcohol dependencies, to help them back into employment
  • an expansion of the Access to Work fund to provide people with drugs and alcohol dependencies with the support they need to enter or stay in work

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