Gingerbread calls on government and employers to support single parents during Covid-19 school closures

Posted 20 March 2020

As schools and nurseries across the country close in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, many single parents will be worried about the challenges ahead and the impact on their families.  Gingerbread is calling on the government and employers to consider the circumstances of single parents and support them in this time of crisis.

Victoria Benson, Gingerbread CEO, said:

“Gingerbread is very aware that many single parents are extremely worried about the impact of the coronavirus on them and their families. We have seen a big increase in the number of single parents seeking support through our helpline and our online forum, along with a spike in membership to Gingerbread friendship groups in the past week alone. The wide-reaching impact of the coronavirus pandemic will have a disproportionate effect on single parents. We already know that many single parents rely on income from insecure work and we also know that they are far more likely to be facing poverty than couple parent families. The impact on their finances from the virus could be devastating if they can no longer work or lose their jobs. In addition, they are likely to be feeling isolated and overwhelmed by the worry this is causing.

“School closures across the country for the majority of students will lead to additional worry and stress, as it means that single parents who are able to work from home will be faced with looking after their children on their own and, unlike couple parents, they won’t be able to juggle care with a partner to enable them to work. Gingerbread is calling on employers to consider the circumstances of single parents and to ensure that they are paid while the school closures are in force.

“We are calling on the Government to support single parents who cannot work, or those who have lost their jobs and to ensure that claims for benefits are processed swiftly so they are not left without any income. We would also like to see all work seeking requirements and sanctions lifted.

“It is also important to remember that single parents are likely to be feeling isolated, alone, and overwhelmed – particularly while we are all being advised to take social distancing measures. We would like to call on everyone to be mindful of this and to offer to help any single parents in their networks. This may be offering to help with shopping or just picking up the phone to check in.

“Gingerbread’s helpline is also available to offer specific advice and guidance and our single parent online forum is active 24/7 with other single parents in similar situations.”

Gingerbread has prepared a key set of recommendations for government and employers that will ensure single parent families are supported at this time.  To read our full recommendations click here.

34 comments on “Gingerbread calls on government and employers to support single parents during Covid-19 school closures

  1. I’m a single mum living in Scotland currently on benefits and my daughter is entitled to free school meals How will we get the help the government mentioned+

      1. My husband just broke with me, I am 13weeks pregnant, I have lost my job last week, and I don’t have family here or friends, I already have 2 miscarriage in the pass, so I am completely lost about what to do, I need move from the house that I am, I need a job, I need help, I really depressed with all this.
        Please if anyone had any advice, I really don’t know what to do, now is me my baby and my dog.
        Thank you

      2. I’m 22 weeks pregnant and it’s just me I’m looking for a place of my own but not too expensive and I dunno what websites to look at.

    1. As a single parent dad at home ill with apparent coronavirus I find it hard to recover quickly and fully while looking after my 6 year old boy. I have been hospital 3 times and have had to leave him with a friend who is now also unwell. If they did tests it would be so much better because if my son was cleared (no coronavirus) I would be able to leave him with my mother who has underlying health condition but would be more helpful as he would be in an environment he knows and safe to say not affecting anyone.

    2. Hi ,I’ to this website and needing advice .
      I’m married with a 12 year old and planning to.leave husband. I have low wage with no savings and mortgage is -equity .
      I can not get any benefits until I leave but dont have finances to set up .
      I know he wont help or let me take anything .

        1. My ex husband is only paying a very small amount of the usual child maintenance he pays. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Hi. I have a current dbs, passport and experience, also single Mum is 2. Happy to be paired up with others to support if needed.

  3. Coronavirus issues
    I’m the only parent for my daughter who is 3. We tried to go food shopping to be told that only one of us was allowed to go inside. I held out as long as I could and tried guessing quiet shopping times.
    I told the manager that I was a single parent twice and they had no answer for this.
    With little delivery slots, I think the world needs more consideration of the reality of single parenting. I felt as though my survival was just quashed by an ignorant supermarket manager.

  4. Hi
    I’m a single parent I’m classed as a key worker, the school is full and will not be able to take my children.
    My work refuses to pay me the 80% of the government pay.
    Please help what should I do I’m part time and am on working tax credits

    1. I’m in the same situation as you and also have a 74 year old parent with underlying health issues living with me.
      My employer refuses to help me, I have had great support from my local MP but I am now having to take unpaid leave. What will happen with my tax credits.
      The stress is unbelievable, it’s making me ill

        1. Hello, I am a single mum of 1. Recently divorced and trying to fit back into work after 2yrs. I have administration , clerical 10+ years and purchasing 2yrs experience . I really would like to get back into studying but don’t know how to get grants and laptops help . A job in experienced areas would be appreciated in NHS preferably but not mandatory. How do I start I’m lost at how yo start. Honestly!

          1. Look under Building Better Opportunities on the internet.
            Gloucestershire has a good scheme called the GEM Project which helps people with barriers get back into education, training and work and has the ability to give small grants to break down barriers.

      1. Hello, I am a single parent and a nurse in the NHS. My little girls dad abruptly ceased paying maintenance, which i relied heavily upon – I took my current mortgage out 3 years ago, backed by a letter from ex to say he paid so much in maintainence which they classed as income and now i can’t afford to cover all my bills. Yet I can’t claim any benefits as I’m employed full time. Each persons situation is completely different and demanding in its own right but the government need to do more to support single parents – I have no leg to stand on where CSA is concerned. Yet it’s me and my daughter who suffers as a consequence, I am having to rely on my mother to provide childcare as nursery has closed to keyworkers, which is far from ideal or in keeping with advise but it’s either that or I can not work – which is not a financially viable option, my mum is also trying to juggle maintaining full time employment whilst helping me with childcare. I truly hope that issues like this are recognised as it has a huge detrimental impact.

  5. Hi
    I’m currently separated from my husband. He would usually see the kids every other weekend however he is currently living with his sister who is married with one child. Is there any guidance as to what should happen in this situation. Does he just not see the children during this time? Or can he come and take the children for a walk/sit in garden a couple of days a week allowing me to do a food shop on my own? He won’t enter house it can be all outside based? If someone could let me know that would be great. Many thanks

  6. My sons dad lives with his mum and dad. Both healthy not over 60. Can my son still go stay? He’s only there fortnightly on a weekend

  7. hello, I am a single parent of three under 5. Is there any help that government offers during pandemic in terms of the rent? I do get universal credit, but it barely covers my rent. I can not work as well. Please let me know if there is any application or where I can find this information. Many thanks!

    1. Hello Kristine,
      We have highlighted the current measures to help renters on our coronavirus advice page, which you can find here:

      Unfortunately there is little current advice on rent-assistance measures beyond the relaxing of evictions, but we have several advice pages on financial wellbeing on our website, too.

      Thank you,

  8. HI my name is Patricia!

    I am a single mother of a 9 year old son. I work 20 hours a week. If I work I get paid if I don’t work I don’t get anything. during this period of Covid I am not receiving anything from work only the 80% that I should receive. My son did not receive a free school meal voucher. I continued to receive £ 124 tax credit per week. I have no other help. Do I have any right to get help, in income or food?

  9. I just wanted to find if anyone else is not receiving healthy start vouchers
    It’s been week since my last vouchers had expired I just can’t seem to find if there is a back log or if they are no longer being delivered
    I’ve tried every way to contact healthy start as the vouchers have not turned up for weeks and I not sure if they have go on a break from not sending them out to people that need them
    The contact number that they have is very expensive to call and it’s not helping when I’m put on hold before actually talk to someone then it cuts off so it’s now cost me more than the vouchers I use to receive

  10. I am a single parent of one diagnosied autistic 12 year old and one waiting to be diagnosed (PDA / ASD) 9 year old. I am a full time carer of both and the only break I ever get is when they are in school. I still have meetings, appointments, chasing up things for them, etc in this time though! Also as with most asd kids they do not sleep! Last night 3am for both, the night before eldest went to sleep around 1am and the youngest 4.30am! I still get up at between 7 and 9!

    Anyway aside from their many needs and home learning I am in the ‘High risk’ group for the virus. I have food, etc delivered and am coping within reason. With autism you are always relatively isolated anyway!! My problem is when my children go back to school I need to know we are all safe. I am expecting this to happen around September for mine. Just an educated guess! I have told school they will not be returning until I am safe to go out!! Wondered if anyone else is in a similar position?

    Lone, single parent, carer and at high risk?

  11. Alot of talk today about schools reopening in Wales but of sending children back to school as being a ‘choice’ – For single working parents it is not a choice. If schools reopen we have no choice but to send them back as if schools reopen employers will expect us to work! Even if a parent is all for sending their child back to school now, how can that work logistically, if school days or weeks are to be staggered – our work is not going to be staggered to fit. Impossible situation! As has been the case throughout this pandemic, no thought from the Government for (or mention of) working single parents – taking choice straight out of our hands, When you strip it down it’s asking us to choose work or family. Like something from the Dark Ages!

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