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Lone parent plea

One million lone parents will fail to escape the poverty trap under Labour's welfare to work scheme unless there are firmer guarantees of education and training for improved qualifications and skills, a report from the Policy Studies Institute warns this week.

A study of 900 lone mothers on family credits showed that such support gave a "short-term trade-off", alleviating some poverty. But in the longer term, they get trapped in a new form of benefit dependency because of their lack of qualifications.

But Social Security Secretary Harriet Harman said the report failed to account for new plans, such as child support, which would free them for study.

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