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Politicians, NGOs and business leaders join forces on help for lone parents

A roundtable involving senior figures from Westminster, Whitehall, consumer groups, charities and business has agreed that working across sectors means more can be done to help lone parents build a brighter future.

Following an event in Westminster to support the next stage of the Barclaycard Horizons programme, which supports lone parents, the expert panel said that help is available for those wanting more information about how new legislation will impact upon parents.

There was agreement that the emphasis should be placed on helping lone parents back into the work place when the time is right through a combination of education, training and advice, and that collaboration between public, private and third sector organizations is needed. The focus should be on an approach that leads to sustainable employment and consequently improves the quality of life of lone parents and their children.

There are 1.9 million lone parents in the UK looking after around 3 million children and 41 per cent of those lone parents are trying to bring up a family on less than £200 per week.

Horizons brings together Barclaycard and three charity partners (Citizens Advice, Family Action and One Parent Families|Gingerbread) to offer lone parent families expert information, advice and support to help secure a brighter future. Horizons funds a variety of different programmes designed to benefit lone parent families. These include face to face debt counselling, financial capability training, grants for education and a return to work programme that gradually introduces lone parents back into the workplace in a supported environment and helps to build up confidence and provide work experience. Since its launch in 2005 Horizons has supported over 100,000 lone parents and their children. After the success of the first three years of the programme, Barclaycard has announced that it will be funding Horizons for a further three years, aiming to help 450,000 lone parents and their children.

Antony Jenkins, Chief Executive, Barclaycard, said: “It is pleasing to see that senior policy makers take an interest in the work that Horizons is carrying out and that so many of the barriers preventing lone parents from taking positive steps are addressed by the programme. The last three years have demonstrated that this kind of integrated programme can be tremendously successful and we look forward to drawing on this discussion to develop Horizons over the next three years.”

Maria Miller MP, Shadow Minister for the Family, said: “These are tough economic times for all families, particularly lone parents, so I am fully behind the work of Horizons which helps them find work and provides grants so education is more affordable.”

Kate Green OBE, Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “People need information about the benefits and services available to them, including how they can access training and build their skills. I welcome the very valuable information and support Barclaycard Horizons provides to lone parents who are thinking about going back to work.”

For more information about Barclaycard Horizons and how to access its services visit www.yourhorizons.com