Singled out? Single parents and universal credit

Published on 1 October 2013


Gingerbread and The Children’s Society’s analysis finds that more than a quarter of a million (265,000) young or disabled single parents will have support dramatically cut under universal credit.

Under the ‘legacy system’, single parents under the age of 25 are exempted from a lower rate of support in recognition of their caring responsibilities. Under universal credit, they will be treated the same as other under-25s and only qualify for the lower ‘standard allowance’ rate. Similarly, severely disabled single parents will lose from the abolition of the severe disability premium. Both charities call on the government to address these flaws in the new system, to ensure those already facing high living costs are not penalised further.

Key findings

  • The government estimates that 900,000 single parents will lose (nearly double the government’s initial estimate of the number of single parent families who would lose out) compared with 700,000 who are expected to gain
  • Around 240,000 single parents under the age of 25 may lose around £780 per year as a result of poorly-publicised reductions in the level of their allowances under universal credit
  • The government has admitted that 100,000 more people will be pushed into poverty under universal credit than would otherwise have been the case without changes to personal allowances for under 25s
  • 25,000 single parents will be affected by the loss of the severe disability premium (providing additional support for disabled adults living without another adult to assist them), losing up to £3,035 per year; those who also lose the enhanced disability premium will lose a further £770 per year
  • The government must urgently introduce changes to ensure that universal credit delivers on its promise to provide support to those who need it most, including the most vulnerable single parent families.