Benefit cap statistics show single parents hardest hit

Posted 6 August 2015

Gingerbread responds to new government data revealing impact of benefit cap on single parent families.

New statistics released by the government today show that six out of ten (64 per cent) of the households affected by the benefit cap are single parent families [1].

The government’s impact assessment for the new lowered cap, for which a rollout date has yet to be set, shows a similar proportion of the 120,000 households affected will be headed by single parents [2].

Gingerbread estimates that around 70 per cent of the single parents affected – or 40 per cent of all the households hit – will be caring for a child aged under five [3]. At the same time, the government has also set out plans to require single parents on universal credit to look for work as soon as their youngest child turns three, two years earlier than current benefit rules demand [4].

The charity argues that single parents’ role as carers for their children will come under increasing pressure, as they have decisions about how to balance their work and caring responsibilities taken out of their hands.

Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “The cap is billed as a policy that ‘incentivises’ parents to find work, however we know that single parents are already highly motivated to work and that for those with very young children, it is low pay, the high cost of childcare and lack of the right part-time jobs that make it particularly difficult for them to work.”

The Department for Work and Pensions’ own analysis found that the single parents who had moved into work after being affected by the cap were more likely to have had children aged four or over [5]. Under the cap, expectant and new parents are equally required to look for work to escape the cap or move.

Fiona Weir added: “This is a policy that will push more children into poverty. We’re calling on the government to exempt single parents caring for a child aged under five from the cap.”

As part of the Welfare Reform Bill 2015, the government is proposing to lower the benefit cap from £26,000 nationally to £23,000 in London and £20,000 in all other regions of the UK.


Notes to editors
[1] At May 2015: 64% of capped households were single parent households. Cumulatively, Apr 2013-May 2015: 56% of capped households to date have been single parent households. Benefit cap: number of households capped to May 2015
[2] 59 per cent of the households affected by the cap are expected to be single mothers. Welfare Reform and Work Bill: Impact Assessment for the benefit cap.
[3] 70% of single parent households which were capped in April 2013-March 2014 had a child under five (DWP response to FoI, March 2015).
[4] Although many single parents with children aged under five do work, single parents claiming income support are not required to look for work until their child turns five, at which point parents are moved on to Jobseeker’s Allowance.
[5] In depth interviews with people affected by the benefit cap DWP December 2014, Government Social Research p21

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