Report highlights Covid struggles of single parents

Single parents are struggling to get back to work after the pandemic, according to the interim findings of research by Gingerbread.

Working mother using laptop


The current system of back to work support, the high cost of childcare and a lack of flexible new jobs is preventing many single parents from moving into sustainable work after the pandemic, with evidence that they are already experiencing longer term unemployment as a result, according to research by Gingerbread.

The single parent charity has published the interim findings of The Single Parent Employment Challenge research report, looking at job loss and job seeking for single parents after the pandemic.

It says its research shows the current generalist back to work support in job centres is not working, with single parents less likely than coupled parents to think that their individual circumstances had been taken into account by the job centre or to have been encouraged to retrain or move into new sectors. It adds that single parents are more likely to have been furloughed and to have worked in sectors that will not exist in the same way after the pandemic.

The report says single parents are also struggling with a lack of advertised flexible jobs, particularly part-time roles. This is pushing skilled and experienced single parents who had previously worked in higher paying managerial roles into low paid and lower skilled roles.

Another problem is the cost of childcare which has risen sharply during the pandemic and single parents talked about no longer being able to rely on older family members for informal care, with ongoing worries about health concerns post-pandemic.

The interim report says there needs to be targeted back to work support for single parents, with specialist provision and greater access to training and early careers advice. It calls for the Government to help with upfront childcare costs through a grant scheme similar to that run in Northern Ireland and it wants to see greater incentives given to employers when it comes to job shares and term time working and more quality part-time vacancies on the Department for Work and Pensions’ site.

It says: “As we come out of the pandemic it is is important that single parents are not left behind – the government must act urgently. With record numbers of single parents on Universal Credit and the risk of longer-term unemployment, targeted action is needed to support single parents into sustainable employment.”

Gingerbread will publish the final report in September 2022, with longer-term recommendations for government, policy-makers and employers.

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