Initial analysis of the budget shows it will be mainly unhelpful for single parents needing support.
Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir gives the single parent charity’s immediate response to the government’s budget.
“Gingerbread is very worried about the impact of the £12 billion benefit cuts on many single parent families who are already struggling financially. Most single parents already work and most who don’t are very motivated to work – they don’t need to be compelled to work, what they need is better support to help them get a job with decent pay and hours. We think it’s particularly important for single parents with young children to be able to decide when it’s best for their children for them to work and when not to.”
Single parents with children aged 3 and 4 having to work:
“Forcing single parents with very young children to work is both impractical and, in many situations, not in the best interests of their children. Removing the right of parents to decide what is best for their children at this crucial stage of their development undermines the importance of putting the child’s needs first.
“30 hours of free childcare is welcome, but it’s not a magic wand. The hours do not cover school holidays, will be offered at specified times which may not fit with work, and moreover research has shown around half of local authorities are struggling to meet demands for local childcare as they stand. When you add in the lack of flexible working opportunities with the best will in the world single parents with very young children can find it impossible to work. ”
Lowering the benefit cap:
“Lowering the benefit cap will hit single parents disproportionately – they make up more than three in five of the households already affected. More than two in five of those affected are single parent families with a child aged under five.
“It’s a cut which saves the government relatively little money, but which has a very detrimental effect on the families it hits who face losing thousands of pounds in vital support, or being uprooted from their local community – including the support that could help them to move into and keep working. We’re calling on the government to exempt single parents with young children from the cap.”
Tax credit & universal credit changes:
“Lowering the amount of money you have to earn before either universal credit is reduced, or your tax credits are cut will likely act as real disincentive for people wanting to increase their working hours or income.
“Cutting the family element in child tax credit will also have a serious impact on the amount of money families receive in support.
“The vast majority of single parents have fewer than two children; in fact single parents are more likely than couple parents to have just the one child. However, for those that do have more children, restricting child tax credit for the first two only will mean less support to cover the cost of essentials like food and transport.”