Joe Richardson, Research and Policy Officer at Gingerbread, responds:
“We welcome the focus of the SSAC’s report, which looks at how to alleviate the financial, emotional and psychological hardships that separated parents and their children can face. When 3.9 million children live in families that have experienced separation, it is critical that the social security system meets the needs of these families.
“SSAC’s call for a publicly articulated strategy on the social security system for separated parents and their children would be a helpful boost to a currently ill-joined up approach to support. A cross-departmental working group for policy on separated parents, another suggestion made in the report, would be a useful means of securing this.
“A focus on changes to the Child Maintenance System (CMS) is also clearly stated in the report. Gingerbread advocates for significant improvements to CMS to ensure the system is fair and robust. But in contrast to the report, we believe that this should primarily focus on safeguarding the wellbeing of children of separated parents, so that they receive the vital financial support that alone lifts a fifth of single parent families out of poverty.[i]
“The report also made reference to the need for an increase in the quality and availability of data on separated parents’ experiences, which SSAC recognised was often in too limited supply to make robust recommendations in relation to the CMS and other aspects of social security. Gingerbread has long called for better data quality to ensure that the system is open to scrutiny and that policy recommendations are evidence led.”
Read the report on the SSAC’s website.
[i] Bryson, C. et al. (2013) Kids aren’t free: the child maintenance arrangements of single parents on benefit in 2012. London: Nuffield Foundation.