Single parents with children as young as six will be required to work part-time if they want to continue receiving welfare payments, says a senior welfare official. Rachel Cartland, an assistant director of social welfare, said the department planned to require single parents who were on Comprehensive Social Security Assistance to work eight hours a week when their children reach the age of six - instead of 15 at present. Mrs Cartland said the plan was aimed at providing incentives and better preparation for single parents, most of whom are women with little skills or education, to return to the workforce in future. She said the department planned to introduce the policy with a pilot scheme in which non-governmental organisations would be invited to provide assistance such as job training and child-care services to the parents. 'We believe there are a lot of work opportunities for single parents, such as housekeeping and elderly care. Tourism also has a promising future for women who have experience in housekeeping.' Mrs Cartland said the standard CSSA rate of $1,745 a month for single parents would be maintained and parents could also keep most of their job earnings. She said the department would discuss the plan with the welfare sector and submit it to the Legislative Council later this month to help fine-tune the scheme. The assistant director said the plan was made in response to the drastic rise in the number of single parents on welfare in the past 10 years - from about 6,000 cases in 1993-94 to more than 37,000 in 2003-04. She said only 9 per cent of single parents on welfare had employment income - compared with 57 per cent of single parents who were not on welfare. Mainland mothers make up only one-sixth of single parent CSSA cases.