The objective of the NDLP programme, according to the government, is for lone parents to be offered advice by the Jobcentre Plus to develop a package of job search, training and after-school care to help them off benefit and into work. The service is delivered through jobcentres, with personal advisers offering a tailored package of advice and support to meet the needs of individual lone parents. The programme is aimed at all lone parents over the age of 16, have a dependent child under the age of 16 and are unemployed or work less than 16 hours per week. It is fairly obvious that the NDLP is targeted at those lone parents who fit in with the social treat or social problem discourses and is designed to tackle unemployment and welfare dependency of young, single mothers as 'a problem'.
The full national NDLP programme was implemented in October 1998, although it already had been operating in eight prototype areas from July 1997 and for new and repeat claimants from May 1998.
The government has claimed that the programme has been a great success, with some 208,207 jobs being gained through the NDLP by December 2002 (National Statistics Online, 2003), with around 10% of lone parents finding employment continuing to remain on the programme receiving in-work support with around 90% leaving the scheme into a job. In total, by December 2002, 53% of leavers from the NDLP left into a job with 31%, a substantial number itself, left for 'unknown reasons'.
However, research conducted by Willetts and Hillman (2000) suggests that the New Deal for Lone Parents is failing and should be abolished. In study titled 'A Raw Deal for Lone Parents' they argue that the number of lone parents on Income Support stopped falling when the programme began and that...