Posted 2 September 2021
Since the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, single parents have borne the brunt of the economic and social fallout. Prior to the pandemic, single parents were already more likely to live in poverty...
Posted 16 May 2018
Gingerbread has been working with single parent families to understand the experience and reality of Universal Credit (UC) as it continues to be rolled out.
We outline progress against the Government’s objectives to:
Unsurprisingly, we find that UC is failing to meet these objectives. After the initial – financial and emotional – shocks of moving onto UC, there is limited stability for some single parent families. For most debt, housing insecurity and job uncertainty is the norm.
Parents told us that they were “too scared to take the risk of moving into work” with risks of entering insecure and low paid work often too high and gains to low; as well as work coaches unable to provide accurate and timely ‘back to work’ calculations.
Parents also described a childcare system that places additional burdens on parents from needing to submit receipts in person to having to find the upfront costs that childcare providers require.
And we heard of an unpredictable system where “it’s up to you to work it all out” leading to confusion and errors.
Despite some nuggets of stability, where a supportive work coach drew on existing flexibilities or a housing association worked with parents to help manage their debt, the experience of UC remains bleak and chaotic for many single parent families.
This is not inevitable – policymakers can make choices to better support those on UC.
“Universal Credit rules should be made more reasonable for single parents, they are too hard on single parents who need to be there for their children.” Sally, single parent on UC
Gingerbread recommends a range of practical recommendations to help the Government achieve its objectives that include.
Making work pay
A simplified system: