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Working lives: lone mothers and their children in the 21st century

Working lives: lone mothers and their children in the 21st century
Speaker: Jane Millar # University of Bath, UK
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Date and Time
9th Feb 2018 15:00 - 9th Feb 2018 18:00
Chrystal Macmillan Building Staff Room 6th Floor

***All talks are followed by a drinks reception, commencing around 4.30pm to which all attendees are invited.***

Abstract: In 1997 the New Deal for Lone Parents was the first UK national scheme aiming to increase employment rates for lone parents. This policy goal has stayed constant through the Labour, Coalition and Conservative governments. And today there are 1.2 million lone mothers in employment, including almost all of those with secondary school-age children. Thus over the past two decades the working lives of lone mothers have been transformed. Being in work is now the everyday and ongoing experience of these women, and defines the circumstances in which their children grow up.

Our in-depth research started around the time that these changes were gaining momentum. The initial sample was made of 50 lone mothers who left Income Support for paid work in 2001/2002. The women were all receiving Working Families Tax Credit, which meant that they were on relatively low wages and/or working part-time. We interviewed the mothers and the children three times between 2004 and 2007. In 2016 we returned to 15 of the families, chosen to reflect the range of family and employment experiences and circumstances from previous rounds. The research started in a period of policy expansion and ended in a period of austerity and retrenchment.

This paper will explore the working lives and family relationships of these lone mothers and young people as they have developed over the past 15 or so years. We draw on case studies over time to explore the women’s working lives as they head towards retirement, and the young people’s working lives as they start out in the labour market. We discuss the implications for policy, in particular in relation to issues of working poverty and in-work progression.

Biographical statement: Jane Millar OBE, FBA, FAcSS is Professor of Social Policy in the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath. Her research interests include the design, implementation and impact of social policy and comparative research on family policy, social security and employment policy, with particular reference to gender and changing family patterns. Her current research includes a longitudinal qualitative project, following lone mothers and their children over a period of about 15 years and exploring issues of employment and income security, social relationships, and quality of life