Third of homes hit by benefit cap are single parents of babies or toddlers

Posted 4 November 2016

New analysis by Gingerbread reveals impact of new, lowered benefit cap on the most vulnerable single parents.

Single parents caring for a baby or toddler make up more than a third (35 per cent) of all the households hit by the new, lowered benefit cap, new analysis from Gingerbread finds [1].

More than half (52 per cent) of all households to fall under the cap are home to a single parent with a child aged 0-4 years old [2]. Gingerbread warns that single parents with young children find it particularly difficult to move into work because of shortages in childcare and suitable part-time jobs, putting these families at greater risk of homelessness and poverty.

Gingerbread has found that 43,700 single parents with a child aged under 5 will be hit by the cap and 29,400 of these families have a child aged 0-2 [3]. The cap, which will see affected families facing an average shortfall of £60 a week in rent, begins national rollout on Monday 7 November.

Although the government’s own research found that single parents with pre-school children were less likely to move into work as a result of the cap [4], they will not be eligible for the same back to work support as typical jobseekers, and the government has not put any plan for ongoing support in place.

Gingerbread Policy Officer Laura Dewar said: “The new benefit cap is likely to drive more single parents into poverty. Many will have to choose between the roof over their children’s heads and other essentials such as food and heating. 

Parents tell us they are doing all they can to find work, but all too often jobs and available childcare just don’t match up – single parents with toddlers can’t simply work a night shift or at weekends.

Those set to be hit by the cap are calling Gingerbread panic-stricken, desperate to find a way to protect their children. For all the government’s talk about work incentives, it has nothing to say on the families who can’t find work and the devastating impact it will have on children who face losing their homes or being pushed in poverty.”


Example calls to Gingerbread:

1) A single parent from Swansea with three children, the youngest of which is two years old, telephoned our helpline very distressed and anxious that  she will lose her family home. She has received the letter from the DWP to inform her that as a result of the benefit cap, her benefits will be reduced by £50 a week from November.  She has been trying to find a job but it has been hard to find work that also fits with her caring responsibilities. She is also worried how she would pay for the upfront childcare costs if she does find work.

2) A single parent from Oxfordshire contacted Gingerbread very worried about the impact of the benefit cap on her family. She is divorced and has three children, including a two year old. She is set to lose £126 a week from November. She is keen to move into work and is already training to be a childminder.  Under wider welfare rules she would be allowed to complete this training which finishes in March. The benefit cap is putting pressure on her to move into work as quickly as possible.

Notes to editors
[1] Gingerbread calculation based on proportions of single parents with children within these age groups under May 2016 benefit cap caseload.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid
[4] The DWP’s own analysis found that “single parents who had found work were more likely than the still capped group to have children aged four or over, at school or nursery”. In depth interviews with people affected by the benefit cap DWP 2014 Government Social Research

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