Qualitative Evaluation of the In Work Retention Pilot

Funded by: Department for Work and Pensions


September 2009 to August 2010

PSI researchers:

Kathryn Ray

Rosemary Davidson

Background, summary and aims

Background, Scope and Aims

The In Work Retention Pilot (IWRP) is part of a series of policy interventions designed to encourage greater numbers of lone parents to take up paid work. It is a two-year pilot which will test the effectiveness of using wage supplementation plus adviser support as an aid to job retention and progression. A mix of weekly payments, quarterly lump sum bonuses and adviser support will be offered to eligible lone parents entering work of at least 16 hours a week in IWRP pilot areas. The evaluation will examine the effectiveness of the pilot in encouraging lone parents to stay in and advance in work . This will include:

  • Examining the work outcomes of participating lone parents,
  • Exploring experiences and views of the pilot among different stakeholders
  • Examining participating lone parents’ views on whether and how the IWRP has made a difference to their work behaviour and decisions
  • Investigating the delivery of the pilot and how this might be improved

Project Design

The evaluation uses qualitative methodology, gathering data from different stakeholders and using longitudinal methods to examine change over time. There is a 3-stage iterative design:

1. Familiarisation

  • Examination of literature, documentation and pilot admin data
  • Telephone interviews with key informants involved in the design and implementation of the pilot

2. Wave 1 fieldwork

  • Interviews with staff delivering the pilot
  • Observations of meetings between participants and advisers
  • 30 in-depth interviews with participating lone parents

3. Wave 2 fieldwork

  • 20 longitudinal interviews with participating lone parents

Qualitative methods will also be complemented by a quantitative analysis of administrative data on participating lone parent work outcomes, conducted by DWP. This will examine job outcomes and sustained job outcomes for participating lone parents.

Importance of Research

The evaluation will contribute to the literature on work retention and progression for lone parents. It builds on PSI’s previous and ongoing evaluations of similar initiatives such as the qualitative evaluation of the In Work Credit pilot for lone parents and the Employment Retention and Advancement Demonstration. Each of these initiatives uses different combinations of financial and advisory support. Together this programme of work will provide a solid body of evidence on the effects of initiatives to support retention and advancement among lone parents. This is a key policy area, contributing to government goals of reducing child poverty and increasing employment rates.