Can in-work benefits improve employment among lone parents?

Welfare reforms have sought to increase employment among lone parents, but entering work does not always reduce poverty. Sustained employment has a greater change of reducing poverty than opting in and out of work on a short term basis. But what is the best policy approach to encourage sustained employment? 

This project will investigage the impact of two recent welfare-to-work policies (In-Work Credit and the Employment Retention and Advancement Demonstration) on short and medium term employment outcomes. The researchers will identify which in-work benefits – and which specific features of them – are the most likely to foster job retention among lone parents.

The project will be carried out with the DWP and using administrative data on benefit and employment spells in a cutting-edge empirical model of employment transitions. The findings will be presented in a technical working paper, placing the results in the context of the existing literature.

Project details



Mike Brewer, Institute for Fiscal Studies

Funding Programme:

Open door

Grant amount and duration:


October 2012 - May 2017

Project Website

Progression and retention in the labour market: what have we learned from IWC and ERA?  Professor Mike Brewer and Jonathan Cribb, October 2017

A look back at In Work Credit and ERA: do financial incentives encourage retention?  A presentation by Professor Mike Brewer and Jonathan Cribb, May 2017

Lone parents, time-limited in-work credits and the dynamics of work and welfare, a report by Professor Mike Brewer (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies) and Jonathan Cribb (Institute for Fiscal Studies and UCL), 2017