Gingerbread responds to new research from StepChange

Posted 18 September 2019

The national debt charity has released its 'Behind on the Basics' report which reveals the number of single parents accessing their services have risen alarmingly over the past five years.

At Gingerbread, we know that debt is a big issue for many single parents. Our helpline team takes lots of calls on money issues and we regularly hear of the wide-reaching effects of debt on single parent families.

We also know that people end up in debt for lots of different reasons – many of these are beyond and individual’s control, such as illness, unemployment, unaffordable childcare or separating from a partner.

Worryingly, it seems that debt is an ever-growing issue across the UK. StepChange, the debt charity, has today released statistics which show a record number of people have contacted them for help and advice in the first six months of this year. The figures also show that the average level of unsecured personal debt was £13,799, with around a third (31%) of new clients having outgoings above the level of their incomes – the average monthly shortfall for clients with deficit budgets is an alarming £365.

Unfortunately, the picture is even worse for single parents. StepChange says:

“Single parents remain alarmingly over-represented among our clients compared to the general population.  One quarter of new clients (24%) are single parents, a proportion which has also been steadily rising over the past few years; in 2014, 18% of new clients were single parents. More than 85% of our single parent clients are women.”

These increases are worrying – adding to the weight of evidence highlighting a need for action, following Gingerbread’s  survey of the financial circumstances, attitudes and experiences of more than 1,000 single parents, which showed that almost half (46%) of single parents worry “a great deal” about their financial circumstance.

The Government needs to not only listen to these alarm bells but to take action to protect people living on a financial knife edge and to help stop more people falling into debt.

As a result of this report, Gingerbread is renewing its call on the Government to better support single parent families – particularly those who are on or will be on Universal Credit. For many years single parents have been disproportionately hit by Government cuts. Small steps have been taken to improve this with the work allowance changes in the last budget but this isn’t enough. Critically, we need to see a reduction in the five week wait for the first payment under Universal Credit.

We are also pleased to be working in partnership with StepChange on a new research project to identify what more can be done to help single parents to protect themselves and their children from falling into debt and facing the significant challenges that this brings.

3 comments on “Gingerbread responds to new research from StepChange

  1. i am a singe parent my ex refuses to pay child support but he got money to support children that are not his. Hes been off and on benefits to avoid making csa psyments. Since june 2019 deduction is there from benefits but no money still not being sent even though only 28.00. csa cant give me an answer to why. they say some benefits will take other debt and child support is graded as a lower debt no wonder why povety is going on. my ex had a good job i believe he left to avoid payment like hes doing now on and off. It is a struggle all the time. my ex does not pay on purpose .

    1. Hello Andrea,

      Thank you for your comment. There are ways we are able to help. You can talk to one of our advisers for free on the Gingerbread Parent Helpline. You can find out more here:

      We also have a number of advice pages on issues facing single parents. You can look through these pages, which are split by subject, here:

      We hope this helps, but do let us know if you have any further questions.

      The Gingerbread Team

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