The Trades Union Congress (TUC) warns that government plans to get more lone parents back to work could push many families into poverty.
The government proposes moving parents of children aged seven and over from income support to jobseekers allowance, so that they are available and looking for work. The plans are designed to meet the objective of a 70 per cent employment rate for lone parents.
The current proposals would give Jobcentre Plus the right to force lone parents to accept jobs; a refusal could lead to a loss of benefits.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “This government has a proud record of tackling unemployment and helping people into work. But the latest proposals could put this at risk and push more families into poverty.
“Instead of stigmatising lone parents, the government should focus on what mums and dads need to get back into work – more affordable childcare and flexible working.”
Further plans include compulsory unpaid work experience for the long-term unemployed. Benefits would be withdrawn should people fail to complete their trials. The TUC says they are concerned that an “army of unpaid temps will be lapped up by dodgy employers”.
The TUC, however, is backing plans for a more localised and individualised welfare to work programme.