From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

What are the health and well-being impacts of welfare to work interventions on lone parents and their children?

There are approximately 1.9 million lone parents in the UK, who, with their children, experience disproportionate levels of poverty and ill health. Labour market participation among single parents is lower than that of couples. In a bid to tackle poverty and increase labour market participation the UK government’s welfare reform has introduced new conditions for the receipt of welfare benefits, including lowering the age of youngest child at which the parent must be available for work from 16 years to 5 years between 2008 and 2011. It is unclear what effect such reforms might have on the health of lone parents and their children, as some evidence suggests that the relationship between employment and health among lone parents and their children is complex, with the potential for negative impacts of employment on health.

Evaluations of welfare reform in other countries have collected data on the health impacts of such reforms, but no-one has conducted a systematic review of these studies. We are therefore conducting a systematic review of studies of welfare reform which report measures of adult or child health and well-being. The review is accompanied by a review of qualitative studies, and has formed the groundwork for primary research on the impacts of welfare reform on lone parents in the UK.



Gibson M, Thomson H, Banas K, Bambra C, Fenton C, Bond L. Welfare to work interventions and their effects on health and well-being of lone parents and their children [protocol]. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012:CD009820

open access  


Gibson M, Banas K, Thomson H, Bambra C, Bond L, McKee MJ, Lutje V, Fenton C. Welfare to work interventions and their effects on the health and well-being of lone parents and their children. Chief Scientist's Office, Edinburgh, 2011

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