United Kingdom

Work and lone parents

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • 57% of working-age lone parents are working, up from 51% a decade ago.  Furthermore, unlike the population as a whole (see the indicator on work and gender), the proportion of lone parents who are working during the current recession.
  • A further 23% are not working but want to.  This proportion is similar in all the regions of the United Kingdom except for London  (higher, at 26%) and Northern Ireland (lower, at 14%).

Why this indicator was originally chosen

Lone parents are a group with high levels of worklessness.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the proportion of lone parents aged 16 to retirement in each work status, namely working, unemployed, economically inactive but wanting paid work, and economically inactive and not wanting paid work.

The second graph shows how the proportion of lone parents aged 16 to retirement who lack, but want, paid work varies by region.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.

The data source for both graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and relates to the United Kingdom.  The data for each year is the average for the 2nd and 4th quarters, analysis by household type not being available for the 1st and 3rd quarters.

Lone parents are single adults with dependent children.  Single adults living with their non-dependent children are not included.

‘Unemployment’ is the ILO definition, which is used for the official unemployment numbers.  It comprises all those with no paid work in the survey week who were available to start work in the next fortnight and who either looked for work in the last month or were waiting to start a job already obtained.

The ‘economically inactive who want paid work’ includes people not available to start work for some time and those not actively seeking work.  The data is based on a question in LFS asking the economically inactive whether they would like paid work or not.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  The LFS is a large, well-established, quarterly government survey, designed to be representative of the population as a whole.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Maximise employment opportunity for all.

Lead department

Department for Work and Pensions.

Official national targets

None.

Other indicators of progress

Overall employment rate taking account of the economic cycle.

Narrow the gap between the employment rates of the following disadvantaged groups and the overall rate: disabled people; lone parents; ethnic minorities; people aged 50 and over; those with no qualifications; and those living in the most deprived Local Authority wards.

Number of people on working age out-of-work benefits.

Amount of time people spend on out-of-work benefits.

Overall aim:  Address the disadvantage that individuals experience because of their gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief.

Lead department

Government Equalities Office.

Official national targets

None.

Other indicators of progress

Gender gap in hourly pay.

Level of choice, control and flexibility to enable independent living.

Participation in public life by women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and young people.

Discrimination in employment.

Fairness of treatment by services.

Previous 2004 targets

As part of the wider objective of full employment in every region, over the three years to Spring 2008, and taking account of the economic cycle, demonstrate progress on increasing the employment rate.

As part of the wider objective of full employment in every region, over the three years to Spring 2008, and taking account of the economic cycle:

  • increase the employment rates of disadvantaged groups (lone parents, ethnic minorities, people aged 50 and over, those with the lowest qualifications, and those living in local authority wards with the poorest initial labour market position); and
  • significantly reduce the difference between the employment rates of the disadvantaged groups and the overall rate.

As a contribution to reducing the proportion of children living in households where no-one is working by 2008:

  • increase the stock of Ofsted-registered childcare by 10%;
  • increase the take-up of formal childcare by lower income working families by 50%; and
  • introduce by April 2005, a successful light-touch childcare approval scheme.

By 2008, working with all departments, bring about measurable improvements in gender equality across a range of indicators, as part of the Government’s objectives on equality and social inclusion.

The numbers

Graph 1

Year Working Unemployed (ILO definition) 'Economically inactive' who want work 'Economically inactive' who do not want work
1996 45% 9% 23% 24%
1997 45% 8% 23% 23%
1998 47% 8% 23% 22%
1999 48% 8% 21% 23%
2000 51% 7% 19% 23%
2001 51% 7% 18% 23%
2002 52% 7% 19% 22%
2003 53% 6% 17% 24%
2004 55% 6% 15% 24%
2005 56% 6% 15% 24%
200656% 6% 14% 23%
200756% 6% 14% 23%
200857% 8% 14% 21%
200957% 9% 13% 21%
201057% 10% 13% 20%

Graph 2

Region Unemployed (ILO definition) 'Economically inactive' who want work
East 8% 13%
East Midlands 11% 11%
London 10% 16%
North East 10% 13%
North West 10% 14%
Northern Ireland 5% 10%
Scotland 8% 14%
South East 7% 15%
South West 8% 12%
Wales 8% 14%
West Midlands 10% 12%
Yorkshire and The Humber 10% 12%