The House of Representatives Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare passed a set of bills Friday to tighten welfare payments for single mothers.

The bills are expected to be enacted during the current extraordinary Diet session and take effect in April.

Under the bills, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry would cut welfare payments to single mothers who receive child-support payments from their separated spouses by counting 80 percent of such money as income, ministry officials said.

As a result, single mothers could see their allowances fall by as much as 50 percent five years after the new laws are introduced.

Single mothers who do not seek employment and fail to provide adequate reasons could also have their welfare allowance reduced or terminated, the officials said.

On the other hand, single mothers would be able to receive preferential treatment in getting their children placed in nursery schools.

The government would also establish a system to promote the self-sufficiency of single mothers by subsidizing 80 percent of tuition for job training courses that would be offered nationwide.

The ministry is seeking a 14 billion yen budget for fiscal 2003 to introduce job-training projects under the legislation.

The government also tightened eligibility requirements for full allowances in August and will base them on the consumer price index.

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