Lone parents trying to balance work and family pressures will be offered more help to return to the workplace, Maria Miller has said.

The work and pensions minister informed single parents that from May 2012 those who have a child aged five or over and are on Income Support will need to move onto Jobseeker’s Allowance, making them eligible for greater support to help them back into the workplace.

“We are determined to help more lone parents take their first steps into work, because we know that work is the best route out of poverty,” she said.

“That is why lone parents with younger children will now have additional access to the help and support they need, rather than being trapped on benefits.”

Up until now the move to Jobseekers Allowance had only applied once a child was seven. The new changes are designed to help lone parents start looking for work earlier and to increase overall inclusion in the workplace for mothers and fathers who are handling childcare alone.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, there with 1.8 million children living in households without a working parent.

The government estimates that, with 6,000 lone parents currently relying solely on Income Support, more than £6 billion is spent supporting these families, although a child living with an out-of-work lone parent with still three times more likely to be in poverty than one working part-time.

As part of the changes, Lone Parent Advisors will be available at Jobcentre Plus to give advice and guidance on the support available, which will include training, childcare, help with job applications and information on part-time or flexible working in the area.

“Getting a good balance between work and family responsibilities is important for every parent,” Ms Miller added. “Jobcentre Plus advisors will actively support lone parents so that they can get that balance right too.”