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Charity responds to single parent employment report

Single parent charity Gingerbread has responded to a recent report by think tank Policy Exchange on single parents and employment.

The report found that of the 1.8 million single parent households in the UK, 650,000 – almost one in four – are not in any sort of work, with the average single parent household claiming twice as much in benefit support as the average two parent household.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said:

“We welcome this report’s focus on the vital issue of increasing single parent employment, and support the call for greater into-work support for single parents, who we know are highly motivated to work.

“However, much of this is lost in some of the report’s muddled interpretation of statistics, which perpetuate misleading and inaccurate myths about single parents. While the report does identify the need for more skills training for single parents, it misses the other key barriers to work for single parents: childcare, a shortage of family friendly jobs and making work pay.”

Statistics reported by Gingerbread show that:

  • 60% of single parents are in work, an increase from 46% in 1998.
  • The biggest barriers to work for single parents are: childcare costs (for 31% of single parents) and a shortage of jobs that were flexible (29%) and that paid enough to make work worthwhile (20%).
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of single parents enter the lowest three occupational groups, which tend to be the least secure, lowest skilled, lowest paid and with the least opportunities for progression.

Gingerbread research also shows that:

  • For those single parents who do manage to find a job, almost a quarter (22%) are out of work again within a year as they struggle to find a job that offers security.
  • Children from single parent families are twice as likely to live in poverty as children from couple families (43% are below the poverty line, compared with 22% of children in couple families).
  • Most single parents had their child while married or cohabitating.

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