Single parents feel sidelined on childcare issues

The majority of single parents feel government legislation has forgotten them and is focused mainly on working couples, according to a survey.

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The survey of nearly 300 single parents found only 8% felt government legislation on families has not been too targeted at couples. The rest were unsure.

Some 62% had seen their tax credits reduced in recent years and only 10% think Universal Credit will make a positive difference to their finances.

Some 22% were unaware of Universal Credit, 19% said it would not make a positive difference and 49% were unsure what difference it might make, showing there is a lot of uncertainty about the new benefits system which aims to ‘make work pay’ and rolls several benefits, including tax credits, into one payment.

Asked what would help them most as a single working parent, 62% said more higher paid flexible jobs, 19% said more flexible jobs and 19% said more subsidised childcare.

Some specified homeworking or term time working. Others commented on the lack of childcare for older children and several said all three options combined would help.

On what would help them most with regard to childcare, the majority – 54% – said better childcare for after school and holidays. Some 25% said more free childcare for under fives and 21% said larger tax rebates. Recent election announcements by all parties has tended to focus mainly on childcare for under fives.

One woman said: “I would like to go into full-time education, but there is only one registered childminder in the village and her quota is full so I would have to use a babysitter.

These do not qualify for any government assistance so a relaxation in these rules by giving an allowance to parents with children under school age would assist greatly and allow more access to training and work.”

Asked if they used after school childcare currently, just 12% said they used it and that it covered their needs. Some 21% said they accessed it, but it didn’t cover all their needs and 67% didn’t currently use it.

Gillian Nissim, founder of, said: “Clearly single parents feel that recent government legislation has been focused on couples, for instance, Shared Parental Leave, while their concerns have not been addressed.

It is interesting to note that while all parties seem to focus on the issue of early years childcare, it is when children start school that many single parents struggle, particularly with covering holidays. However, a lack of flexible jobs, particularly more senior level ones, remains the biggest concern.

More needs to be done to encourage and support employers to advertise flexible jobs because there is clearly a great demand for these roles and we know from working with companies who offer them that they can result in a more motivated, productive and engaged workforce.”

Gingerbread Chief executive Fiona Weir said: “Single parents’ votes could be decisive in marginal seats this election, but’s research shows that politicians still have work to do to persuade single parents that they have the solutions to the issues their families are facing.

“We know from our own work with single parents that earning a decent wage, access to affordable childcare and more flexible jobs are some of the top issues they want to see politicians tackle. With just two weeks to go, politicians can’t afford to ignore the voting power of single parents at this election.”

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