In Britain lone parents can claim until the youngest child reaches the age of 16. This policy is a hangover from the early years of the welfare state when most mothers of young children did not work. That policy aimed to enable lone parents, like others, to stay at home while their children were dependent. Times change, and what was a good policy to help lone parents almost 50 years ago has now become a bad one that should be changed.
Today, when most mothers return to work while their children are still young, back-to-work programmes and Labour's welfare-into-work strategy are, as Ms Spackman suggests, what is needed to enable lone parents to make the most and the best of their lives - and of their children's.