Wigan has almost 11,000 single parents

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WIGAN has 10,898 lone parent families according to official census figures - the second highest number in Greater Manchester.

The new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that only Manchester it self had a higher total of one-parent households.

Surprisingly, the figures revealed that Wigan had the highest percentage of male lone-parent families (11.4 per cent) in the region, although females still dominate the statistics.

Of all the single-parent families in the borough, 38.5 per cent of the adults were not in employment, although 29.4 per cent were in full-time employment with the remainder in part-time employment.

The news comes as the Government comes under pressure to focus on helping young, single parents find jobs as a key part of the drive to find further savings in the welfare budget.

Anne Goldsmith, director for children and families at Wigan Council, said: “Wigan Council has a number of initiatives designed to help local residents get on and stay on the career ladder.

“Our National Careers Service is a good example of how we’re helping residents over the age of 19 return to work. The service, which is delivered from both Wigan and Leigh Life Centre and in Marsh Green, provides adults with advice and support to help them get the training and skills they need to achieve their career aspirations.

“The council also has

access to various packages of support to help young people address the barriers that prevent them from entering the labour market.

“In addition to that, free childcare of up to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks a year is available to those in receipt of certain benefits, including income support and income-based job seekers allowance, giving parents the time to attend training courses, apply for jobs and attend interviews.”

A recent study, by Policy Exchange, an influential thinktank, found that in 650,000 of Britain’s 1.8 million single-parent households - more than one in three - the mother or father is unemployed.

It also showed that the average lone-parent household claimed twice as many benefits as households in which children are being brought up by co-habiting couples.

Helping unemployed single parents to find jobs would significantly boost the economy and aid the Government’s attempts to cut Britain’s benefits bill, the study concluded.

Matthew Tinsley, the author of the report, said: “Because there are so many lone parent households we have to be concerned about the unemployment among them.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The employment rate for lone parents is the highest it has ever been, and over a million lone parents are now in work.

“The number of lone parents claiming Income Support is also at its lowest level for 30 years.

“But we are not complacent - we are determined to help more lone parents take their first steps into work, because we know that work is the best route out of poverty.”