Paying the price: Single parents in the age of austerity
This research, funded by Trust for London and the Barrow Cadbury Trust, looks at the impact of the ‘age of austerity’ on single parent families. The mixed method programme will look at how single parents’ finances are changing as a result of tax and benefit reforms, public service cuts, and the recession. The research will also look at the broader impact on single parent families of changing household budgets, and the coping mechanisms used to deal with these changes. The findings will be used to track the changing impact of austerity on single parent families, inform policy-makers about the support single parents need, and strengthen Gingerbread’s advice and information for single parents dealing with austerity. The programme will run over three years, up to June 2015; the Paying the price webpage
will be regularly updated with our findings.
Single Parents’ work aspirations
This project, funded by the Big Lottery, seeks to find out what a wide range of single parents aspire to achieve from work. We have run several focus groups and carried out a large scale survey to ask what the ideal job would look like for single parents. From these findings we have been able to identify different typologies of single parents based on their work requirements, and we can relate this to their personal and family demographics. The aim is to design services which support all of these sub-groups of single parents to enter or progress in the workplace.
Single parents’ mental health and employment
We are collaborators on this Nuffield Foundation funded project with the University of Bath. The aim of this research is to address the question, “Does participation in paid employment alleviate depression among single parents, and has employment policy affected mental health outcomes?” Two research literatures currently overlap but leave a big gap: there is a large literature on mental health and employment that doesn’t focus on single parents and there is a large literature on single parents and employment that doesn’t look at mental health. This research aims to fill that gap and to look at how the issues of mental health, single parenthood and employment interact. Gingerbread will be carrying out interviews with single parents who are currently employed or out of work to see what the relationship seems to be from their experience.
Free to choose: Child maintenance and single parents on benefit
Recent policy changes about child maintenance have major implications for the income of single parents living on means-tested benefits: they can now receive child maintenance without it affecting the level of their means-tested benefits, plus they are no longer obliged to involve the state in any negotiations with ex-partners about child maintenance. This 18 month project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, will provide the first assessment of the take up of maintenance among single parents on benefit since the policy changes, using a large scale national survey and a series of qualitative interviews to examine what choices these parents are making about their child maintenance arrangements The findings will provide vital, timely information for the planned phased transition to a new scheme of child maintenance arrangements starting in 2012. Gingerbread has commissioned NatCen and BPSR to work with them on this project.
Working with single parents
Gingerbread is committed to ensuring that all of our policy work and service delivery are informed by single parents. We therefore carry out regular work with single parents to gather their opinions on various aspects of their lives and current policies as well as the issues that matter to them. This all feeds into our organisational development and policy work as well as highlighting areas for future research.