A new report by charity Gingerbread has shown that many single parents are struggling to earn the money they need to look after their children.
The report entitled Paying the Price: The long road to recovery shows how single parents are twice as likely to have a low-wage despite the recent upturn in Britain’s job market.
The charity said that there was little evidence that the improving economic climate was benefiting the lives of single parents who are working low wage jobs or “desperately trying” to break into the job market.
Fiona Weir, chief executive of Gingerbread said: “Single parents are working incredibly hard to provide for their families, but all too often they are barely keeping up with the costs of the essentials for their families.
“There is little sign of an economic recovery for parents who have had to go without another meal and face the nagging, gnawing worry of bills marked ‘final warning’.
“Our report shows that for single parent families, work isn’t a golden ticket out of poverty, low-paid jobs aren’t a rite of passage and a recovering job market is still leaving many behind.”
Ms Weir went on to say: “Single parents are the sole earners for their family, so it’s absolutely vital that, when they go out to work, their job pays a decent wage and offers them stability.
“Without action from government and employers on in-work financial support, low-pay and job security, too many single parent families will remain trapped in poverty and left out of the recovery.”
A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions said that single parent employment levels are at their highest since records began in 1996.
He said: “Our welfare reforms are designed to encourage even more lone parents into work – and make work pay by allowing them to keep more of the money they earn – as we know work is the best route out of poverty.
“That is why we have brought forward the employment support for lone parents with younger children, announced extra childcare provision for lone parents under Universal Credit and made free nursery education available for all three and four-year-olds.”
Many single parents said they felt “disadvantaged” with very few part-time or flexi-time jobs for those juggling work and childcare.
One in six said they had multiple jobs and a quarter have increased their working hours in order to meet the cost of living.
A report by LV has shown that the average cost of raising a child to their 21st birthday now stands at a record high of £227,266. Education and childcare represent the largest portion of this figure, costing £73,803 and £66,113 respectively over the course of their childhoods.
Parents now spend 28% of their income on average raising their children. This figure is likely to be much higher for single parents as they juggle work and childcare.
Bev Budsworth from The Debt Advisor adds, “With single parents being so financially stretched, it is hardly surprising that they rely on extended credit to make ends meet. Often however, due to poor credit status, the only credit available is high cost short term loans which in the event of default will cause misery”.
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