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Society: CSA failing to ease parents' burden

The Child Support Agency has so far only had a "small impact" on the lives of lone parents when the potential to help them is there, according to a new report by the Policy Studies Institute. Single parents who co-operate with the CSA could be 60 per cent better off than those who remain on income support, it found.

Increasing maintenance payments helps lone parents work, particularly those with few qualifications or experience. However, the proportion receiving maintenance payments remains at just 30 per cent.

The report also challenges common beliefs about parents bringing up children alone. Rather than being "serial lone parents" they tend to be formerly married, having had all their children by one partner.

Lone Parents; Work and Benefits, pounds 25, HMSO.