Universal Credit, the government’s new benefit system, is replacing many in and out of work benefits. Once fully rolled out (by 2022), nearly all of the UK’s 2 million single parents will be eligible to receive Universal Credit. It’s therefore crucial the government lives up to its promise to ‘make work pay’.
We spoke to single parents to find out about their experience of Universal Credit. Read our latest research here.
Why the campaign matters
Single parents will, on average, be financially worse off as a result of Universal Credit – whether working or not. Some single parents already receiving Universal Credit are facing forced evictions and struggling to afford the basics – we need your help to change this.
Under Universal Credit:
- Single parents will lose around £1,300 (7.6 per cent) annually by 2020
- The cut to the Universal Credit work allowance means the average working single parent will lose £800 a year – some will lose over £2,000 compared to current benefits
- More single parents will be at risk of unfair sanctions – single parents with pre-school children will now be expected to seek work regardless of the local availability of childcare or flexible work.
What we’re campaigning for
Universal Credit needs to change to ensure financial security for all families. The real-life experiences of single parents already on Universal Credit highlight significant problems with both its design and delivery.
We’re calling on the government to implement a number of changes:
- Reduce in-built delays – we welcome the Chancellor’s recent decision to scrap the seven-day waiting period and improve the advance payment system. However, these advance payments are still loans which must be repaid; there is still a significant wait to receive your first proper payment*
- Improve access to, and affordable repayment of, advance payments
- Reverse the work allowances under Universal Credit – without this, working single parents lose £800 on average and some over £2,000 a year
- Suspend new job seeking requirements for parents of three and four year olds, until affordable and good quality childcare and flexible work is available locally
- Promote and widen flexibility to reflect families’ circumstances – including better access to fortnightly payments and ways to manage fluctuating income fairly (e.g. when self-employed)
- Ensure entitlements are clear and single parents’ needs are recognised in claimant commitments
- Strengthen the administration of the Universal Credit childcare support offer.
If you’re a single parent facing financial difficulties as a result of Universal Credit, write to your MP and explain challenges you are facing. It’s important your MP understands the impact Universal Credit is having on your family.
As Universal Credit is rolled out, we will continue to speak to single parents to better understand their experiences, and campaign for a system that is truly fit for purpose for all single parent families.Take action
* The 2017 Budget announced that the seven waiting days will be scrapped from February 2018 and advance payments overhauled from January 2018. Gingerbread welcomes these decisions and will monitor how they are implemented, but remains committed to the more substantial change needed to ensure single parents aren’t worse off under Universal Credit.