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Working lone parents 'left behind'


Two-thirds of working single parents find finances a constant struggle, a survey shows

Two-thirds of working single parents find finances a constant struggle, a survey shows

Two-thirds of working single parents find finances a constant struggle, a survey shows

The recovering job market is "leaving behind single parents" who are struggling to earn the income they need, a charity has warned.

In a survey carried out by Gingerbread, two-thirds of working single parents said finances are a constant struggle while one in 10 said they are not coping financially.

Their report, called Paying the Price: The Long Road to Recovery, found lone mothers and fathers are twice as likely than other workers to be working in low-paid jobs.

The charity said its research found little evidence of an economic upturn in the lives of single parents who are working or "desperately trying" to break into the jobs market.

It called on the Government and employers to better support them, including offering in-work financial support and job security to help them out of poverty.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir 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."

Single parents reported feeling "disadvantaged", with few part-time or flexible jobs on offer for parents needing to juggle childcare with work.

One in six said they worked multiple jobs, while a quarter had increased their working hours to meet the costs of family essentials.

Ms Weir added: "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."

The report follows the release of official poverty figures earlier this month, which found a rise in child poverty for single parent households where the parent works full-time, climbing from 17% in 2011-12 to 22% in 2012-13.

Single mother-of-one Alison Fulcher, 43, from Essex works two jobs to provide for herself and her daughter.

She said: "I work 33 hours a week doing two jobs: a housekeeper and a cleaner.

"For one of my jobs, while I really like the company I work for, I'm earning just above the minimum wage. Trying to bridge the gap between my earnings and the rent and our increased council tax bill is difficult. I absolutely want to contribute and pay my taxes, but on a low income, it's not easy.

"Last summer I had to sell my car, I just couldn't manage the running costs. I really miss it and being without it means I have to use the local supermarkets, which are more expensive. I've worked really hard to keep up with rising costs, but it's a struggle."

The online survey, supported by the Trust for London and Barrow Cadbury Trust, was completed by 2,486 single parents over a one-month period between February and March.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said the lone parent employment rate is the highest since records began in 1996.

He added: "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".

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