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We provide expert advice, practical support and campaign for single parents

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Research reports

Single parents’ mental health and employment

Download Lone mothers, work and depression by Susan Harkness and Amy Skipp (PDF)

This briefing paper highlights the key findings from a research project into the interaction between paid employment and mental health for single parents. Gingerbread contributed to this University of Bath project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, by undertaking a series of qualitative interviews with single parents.

The paper finds overall that being in work which allows them to balance employment with looking after their children has positive effects on single parents’ mental health and wellbeing. However, working more (or fewer) hours than they want to does not bring the same benefits. The paper concludes that supporting single parents into work that they can successfully balance with childcare is important, but that, without additional policy measures to help them balance work and home life, financial incentives designed to encourage longer working hours may not necessarily have the desired effect.

Kids aren't free: the child maintenance arrangements of single parents on benefit in 2012

Kids Aren't Free briefing paper.pdf
Kids Aren't Free briefing paper.pdf



This report with the Nuffield Foundation provides the first evidence on the maintenance arrangements of single parents on out-of-work benefits since the requirement to use the Child Support Agency (CSA) was removed and the policy of reducing benefits in line with the level of maintenance received was abolished (in 2008 and 2010 respectively). It reveals that since these changes were implemented, the number of single parents on benefits receiving maintenance has increased from one quarter to just over one third. But the findings also show that almost half of single parents on benefits have no maintenance arrangement in place. Add to this the number who have arrangements but don’t actually receive any money, either because the CSA has made a ‘nil assessment’ or the non-resident parent does not make the agreed payments, and it is clear that the majority of single parents on benefit receive no maintenance at all.

Struggling to make ends meet: single parents and income adequacy under universal credit

This report from Donald Hirsch at Loughborough University assesses the extent to which universal credit will make work pay and allow single parents to lift their families out of poverty. Despite government claims that universal credit will always make it financially worthwhile to work more hours, the research shows that current plans will fail to make work pay for some single parent families.

Unintended Consequences

Gingerbread's report on how the structure of universal credit undermines the coalition commitment to support low income workers through raising the personal tax allowance threshold

The only way is up?
The employment aspirations of single parents - Key findings

Aspirations - Key findings website.pdf

The only way is up?
The employment aspirations of single parents - Full report

Here are detailed research reports commissioned by Gingerbread on which we base our briefings. 

Missing a trick? The role of child maintenance in tackling child poverty in single parent households

Maintenance matters - Missing a trick.pdf

Maintenance matters - Missing a trick.pdf

This paper assesses the potential impact of the receipt of child maintenance payments on the income packages of lone mothers. It provides an analysis of the Families and Children Survey (FACS) using the latest 2008 data which involved interviews with parents with dependent children conducted between October 2008 and February 2009.

Dr Christine Skinner and Gill Main, October 2011

Technical research report - The contribution of child maintenance payments to the income packages of single mothers.pdf

Childcare support and the hours trap

Childcare support and the hours trap.pdf

Childcare support and the hours trap.pdf

This report shows the impact of the changes to the tax credit system introduced by the Coalition Government, which are scheduled to come into force in April 2011, on net childcare costs and work incentives for single parents who are currently working and claiming Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Howard Reed and Tim Horton, March 2011 

Technical research report - Analysis of the impact of tax credit changes on working single parents.pdf

Technical research report - Analysis of the impact of tax credit changes on working single parents.pdf