LETTER: Legislative change and lone parents

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From Ms Sue Monk

Sir: John Redwood's suggestion that adoption should be considered before state support is offered is a threat to children's welfare. In most cases, it is damaging for the child to be removed from its natural mother. Nevertheless, John Redwood's comments have highlighted the special needs of the tiny minority of lone parents aged between 14 and 16. More educational and training opportunities for this group are, indeed, much needed, as are extra resources for the hostels that are appropriate for a small number of mothers in this group.

Overall, what is needed urgently in the lone parenthood debate is a long- term view that aims to invest in, rather than punish, one-parent families. Policies along this line are needed as much for the majority of lone parents - the mature women and men who were once-married - as for the very young.

A recent DSS survey shows 90 per cent of lone mothers wish to return to work. A cohesive national strategy that provided more training opportunities, high-quality, affordable childcare and a bridge between benefits and wages could lift large numbers of lone mothers out of long-term poverty.

Rarely is adoption in the child's best interests: cutting benefits to one-parent families could never be. That would penalise the vulnerable, drive more children into poverty and do nothing to reduce the number of lone parents stuck in long-term dependency.

Yours faithfully,

Sue Monk

National Council for

One Parent Families

London, NW5

15 August