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Training and work experience initiative aims to help lone parents return to work

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Lone parents are to receive extra help to get training and work experience while their children are at nursery school.

They will also be able to keep £50 of their wages before losing any benefit if they get jobs for fewer than 16 hours a week, according to secretary of state for work and pensions Yvette Cooper.

Parents of three to six year-old children in South London, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Tees Valley will be the first to get this extra help.

The Government hopes the new plans will help lone parents to start preparing for work through training, work experience or getting CVs ready, or to find jobs that fit with nursery and school hours.

There will be an obligation on lone parents to take up help, but only during hours when their children are at school or nursery school. The aim is to ensure those parents with young children remain close to the labour market and are ready to look for a job when the time is right, rather than losing all contact with the working world.

Cooper added: "Helping parents into jobs so they can support their families is the best way to lift children out of poverty. We know that around 80% of lone parents are already working or would like to work. We want to help them do that in a way that also supports their family life.

"We are giving parents more support to get ready to go back to work while their children are at nursery school, but in return we do expect people to take up this extra help on offer."