The Single Parent Employment Challenge
It was therefore timely that a week on from an Autumn Budget that did little to improve the lot of these single parent households, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Single Parent Families met to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on single parents in work.
The event, titled ‘The Single Parent Employment Challenge, was chaired by Rupa Huq MP with speakers Victoria Benson, CEO of Gingerbread, and Jan van Zyl, CEO of Working Families, presenting the unique challenges faced by single both seeking work and in work. Also in attendance was APPG Vice-Chair Rosie Duffield MP and Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP.
Gingerbread is calling on the government and employers to support single parents into work and provide better quality jobs that really make work pay. The key points from the discussion were:
The single parent unemployment rate is high at 12%. Support is needed to help single parents into work that reflects their skills and qualifications or supports their training into new areas of work – including help for those who were on long-term furlough.
Better support is needed to help single parents into work that also takes account of their need to care for their children on their own. Specialist single parent advisers at job centres would be a good starting point.
Jobs being advertised as flexible by default could be a game changer for single parents and our policy ask that the government incentivises job shares together with a register of job shares – like the very successful register for the civil service – would really open quality better paying part-time work.
There needs to be a change in how childcare costs are made under Universal Credit, and at the very least the government should follow the lead of Northern Ireland where last week they announced that a non-refundable grant of up to £1 500 to be made available to cover the upfront costs of childcare for those entering work.
Lastly, Gingerbread wants to see more aspiration in the work that single parents could do. The Government has set out an ambitious plan for levelling up and a dynamic high-tech economy. That cannot be delivered while the skills and qualifications of up to 1.8 million single parents with children are effectively being wasted.