Public Release: 

Crucial advice for lone parents - new help on way

Cardiff University

One in four UK families today is headed by a lone parent, and they are among Britain's poorest, often relying on benefits and even losing their homes.

Now experts at Cardiff University have been commissioned by the UK's National Council for One Parent Families to help ensure these families get the crucial advice they need.

"Women form the vast majority of lone parents and typically they see an average fall in their income on separation or divorce of about £20 a week," said Richard Moorhead, a Senior Research Fellow in Cardiff Law School.

"Many lone parents find it difficult to get and stay in paid work and are forced to rely on benefits, or are in low-paid jobs and supplementing their income with in-work benefits," he added.

Kate Green, Director of One Parent Families, said: "Only one third of lone parents receive any child maintenance from a former partner. Well over half are forced to leave the family home when the relationship breaks up, and 30% of one-parent families have experienced homelessness in the past 10 years. All this means they desperately need advice, yet little has been done to explore what their advice needs are and how well advice providers respond to these needs. I am delighted that we have been able to commission the team from Cardiff Law School to research their advice needs"

The National Council for One Parent Families has received an award of £70,000 from the Nuffield Foundation to conduct research into the advice needs of these single parent families, and has commissioned Mr Moorhead and Professor Gillian Douglas to undertake this work.

The research will use focus groups with lone parents, solicitors and other advisers, as well as telephone and face to face interviews.

This will build up a detailed picture of what lone parents' advice needs are, how they seek to meet those needs, and the barriers to access and advice.

Mr Moorhead said the research came at a crucial time as the main funder of advice, the Legal Services Commission, aims to 'join-up' the provision of legally aided family advice through its Family Advice and Information Networks pilot.

The work could also have implications for Government policy on child poverty and social exclusion.

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