Posted 8 February 2021
New research report ‘The single parent debt trap’ published by Gingerbread and StepChange, the UK’s leading debt charity, reveals that single parents are more likely to be living with problem debt. The research also shows...
Published on 16 December 2020
Based on new research from the Learning and Work Institute and Gingerbread supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the report Tackling single parent poverty after the Coronavirus explores the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on single parents and sets out what can be done to reduce single parent poverty after the pandemic. The research is based on new analysis of national survey data, interviews and a workshop with single parents who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. We also highlight the changes single parents want to see to help them back into decent work and out of poverty, as we emerge from the pandemic.
There was a significant and sustained increase in the single parent employment rate in the two decades prior to the pandemic, with the employment gap with other parents nearly halving over that period. However, of those single parents who were in work, most worked part-time and they were more likely than other parents to be both low paid and to be stuck in low pay. This meant that nearly half (44%) of children in a single parent family were in poverty on the eve of the crisis, compared to just one in four (26%) of those living in other families.
The new analysis suggests that the pandemic is hitting single parents hard. Single parents are more likely to have lost hours and to have lost income in recent months. They are more likely both to have been furloughed and to have lost their jobs – with a risk that the single parent employment gap has widened as a result of the pandemic.
There has been a double impact from the pandemic on single parent families. Firstly, they are more likely to have been working in the industries and the jobs that have been hit hardest and are less likely to have been able to continue working from home. Secondly, as sole carers, they have experienced greater disruption as a result of the closure of childcare and schools earlier in the crisis. Given a greater impact on employment and incomes for a group that was already facing significant disadvantage, the coronavirus pandemic risks both deepening pre-existing inequalities and pushing more single parents and children into poverty.
Based on statistical findings and the evidence from the single parents involved in this project, we have developed a four-point plan to tackle poverty and promote access to good work after the pandemic: