Gingerbread releases new figures on the scale of child poverty across the UK.
Research by Gingerbread revealed that, since 2013, 46 per cent of children from single parent households in London and the south live in relative poverty.
Nationally the picture is equally as bleak, with 41 per cent of single parent families earning less than 60 per cent of the UK average.
And these figures are set to increase even further, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimating that poverty rates for single parents will almost double between now and 2020 .
Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: “It is shameful that in a country as wealthy as Britain, almost half of children in single parent households live below the poverty line.
“While the government rightly focuses its attention on the long-awaited Life Chances Strategy, the concern is that not enough is being done for thousands of families. Single parent families don’t just need lifting out of poverty, they need measures in place to stop that figure doubling over the next four years.
Work continues to offer the best route out of poverty, a lack of flexible jobs, coupled with high childcare and housing costs, mean that single parents are left are in an increasingly perilous position. And it is children that will bear the brunt of that.”
One parent, 30-year-old Thea from Haringey, works full-time as an account manager at a language service provider, but struggles to make ends meet. Her financial situation means that she’s living on the brink of poverty.
Thea said: “I earn £1,800-a-month but have to pay out more than £1,100 on childcare, as well as £900 on rent. People like me are even worse off than people who don’t have jobs. We don’t even have any free time to spend with our children, do household chores, prepare food, etc. The only reason I find any time at all with my son is because I’m super-organised and fulfil all of my work and home responsibilities.
“Time is something that’s very valuable to me in terms of quality of life, and single parents working full-time don’t have any. If you compare me to a single parent who does not work at all, I have the same amount of money as them, which is zero. You are left in a culture that you can’t afford.”
Gingerbread believes there are positive signs that the Life Chances Strategy will be comprehensive, and tackle the underlying causes of poverty as well as some of the implications. This will include drawing on Department for Work and Pensions commissioned research published by the Early Intervention Foundation that firmly adds to the evidence base that it is the quality of family relationships that matters to children’s life chances regardless of family structure . This echoes existing research showing that parental conflict has a significant negative impact on children’s well-being.
Despite the single parent employment rate being at a record high, many working parents are still living in poverty. 32 per cent of children whose single parent works part-time are in poverty ; and 20 percent of children live in poverty even though their parent is in full time work . Persistent insecure and low-paid work makes single parents vulnerable to poverty.
Fiona Weir said: “The Life Chances Strategy is very much at risk from the politics of the EU referendum. However, ‘Brexit’ or ‘Remain’ will be of little significance to the families on the brink of poverty if the government’s strategy fails to recognise income. This is harder with child poverty targets having been scrapped and welfare reforms starting to bite.”
Notes to editors