Paying the price: the long road to recovery

Published on 21 July 2014


Despite an emerging economic recovery and record high employment, single parents still face significant barriers to work. This report looks at single parents’ experiences of work and finding work, and finds many face low paid or insecure work, including self-employment, while others are still prevented from entering work due to a lack of training and high childcare costs.

Key findings

  • Two-fifths (39 per cent) of single parents surveyed were in low paid work
  • An investment in skills and training is urgently needed for single parents out of work, moving away from the jobcentre’s ‘work-first’ approach
  • The government’s promised £300 million to increase childcare support from 70 to 85 per cent of costs under universal credit should be rolled out under tax credits to help families now
  • DWP should use the slow roll-out of universal credit to pilot further ways to maximise work incentives, eg trialling a lower taper rate or higher income work allowance for single parents
  • The government should take a more active role in promoting and embedding flexible working across pay grades, starting with public sector and sub-contracted jobs
  • The government must urgently review support for the low-paid self-employed, including jobcentre advice and universal credit payments
  • The government should work with employers to incentivise job security and develop clear pathways for progression – particularly in low-paid sectors.