Gingerbread’s Response to the Work and Pensions Committee Report on Universal Credit and Childcare Costs

Posted 20 December 2022

We welcome the Committee’s findings and we’re pleased that they have taken on board Gingerbread’s evidence and proposed policy changes. Single parents want to work and many of those who are already working want to work more hours at a level that fits their skills. Unfortunately, the current system actively prevents single parents on low incomes from doing so and as a result many are stuck in lower paid, part time jobs, often working below their skill levels.

Single parents are already at a disadvantage because there is a lack of suitable employment and childcare – the current UC system exacerbates this. We all know childcare costs are extremely expensive – yet under UC, parents are expected to pay the first month (plus a deposit in many cases) before they have even started work. This means that many very low income parents must find hundreds of pounds to pay for childcare before they’ve even had their first pay packet. In addition, there is a cap on the amount of childcare that can be claimed – this cap was set in 2005 and does not reflect today’s childcare costs at all. This is a key reason that many single parents cannot afford to work more hours – despite being keen to do so.

Of course, this isn’t just about the welfare system – there isn’t enough good quality, flexible work – nor is there enough high quality, affordable childcare available when single parents need it. However, welfare reforms are reducing the incomes of low-income families and the current childcare system doesn’t work for single parents or childcare providers. We need to see need wholesale change to ensure those who need help the most can access it effectively. Not only will this remove a huge burden of worry from single parents but it will mean they can work more hours at their skill level and contribute more to our economy.

Read the report