Gingerbread are currently in Birmingham to attend the 2022 Conservative Party Conference and encourage our political leaders to recognise the challenges that single parent families face and to prioritise the support they need.
We’re here to make sure single parents aren’t forgotten.
This conference – like the Labour Party Conference last week – comes at a crucial time for single parent families.
With the cost of living crisis causing anxiety for many single parents, we have been attending events with Ministers, MPs and our charity partners to put forward the case that single parents face a unique set of challenges.
Unfortunately, we have been hearing several of our political leaders sharing harmful stereotypes and misconceptions about single parent families. We have been, and will continue to challenging these whenever we hear them. We will continue to call upon all of our political leaders to do better, both in their attitudes and in their policies.
While this will always be our priority, the current crisis demands action.
From being unable to afford the weekly food shop to turning down job offers because of extortionate childcare costs, we hear every day from single parents about what life is like for them and their children. We think it’s important for politicians to hear about this reality.
What issues are important to single parent families?
Conversations with single parents on our helpline and online forum have made it clear that there are several connected issues making life difficult at the moment:
- Cost of living crisis & rising bills: Many single parents, who rely on just one income, are seeing the cost of their bills overtake the money coming in each month. We used to hear from single parents who were having to choose between heating and eating – we’re now hearing from families who are unable to do either.
- Universal Credit: Benefits must be uprated in line with inflation to support the 75% of single parent families who receive this vital welfare support.
- Childcare: The accessibility, cost, and quality of childcare is high up on the agenda for the families we support and speak to. Single parents rely on formal childcare more than coupled parents so an unrgent reform to the childcare system would give targeted support to many of the low-income families who need it most.
- Child Maintenance Service: The failings of this service continue to let down many single parents, whose children are not receiving the maintenance they are owed to support their upbringing.
- Employment: The lack of flexible job opportunities that allow single parents to balance their caring responsibilities and support their advancement in the workplace leaves many wanting more. Policymakers must realise that supporting single parents into work would help them to raise their families as well as boosting the economy.
- Debt: Our research showed that, on average, single parents accrued £600 worth of debt throughout the pandemic. The Government must recognise this vicious cycle that impacts certain groups more than others, and take the steps needed to fix the debt problem.
- Stigma & discrimination: Single parents and their children are still written off by those with outdated and damaging misconceptions about different family types. The research shows that children brought up by single parents are equally healthy and happy, so our politicians must lead the way in changing public opinion.