One in three children of working single parents live in poverty, warns charity

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Almost two thirds of children from single parent families will be living below the breadline by 2021: Getty

One in three British children with a working single parent are living in poverty and the figures are set to rise, new research has revealed.

Almost two thirds of children from single parent families will be living below the breadline by 2021, a study by the charity Gingerbread revealed.

Decent wages and flexible working hours are ”few and far between” for single parents who act as both the primary carer and earner, “trapping” them in lower paid, insecure work, the charity warned.

Rates of employment among single parents have reached a record high, but the spike has coincided with a tenfold increase in zero hours contracts over the past decade, the report found.

The charity's chief executive Rosie Ferguson said the report highlighted how single parents’ aspirations can be “thwarted by circumstances outside their control”.

She said: “The majority of single parents work but many are still locked out of the secure, flexible employment opportunities they need in order to provide for their children."

“Low-paid and insecure jobs, as well as the lack of affordable childcare, mean that some single parents struggle to put food on the table for their children.

“The government must work with job centres, employers and childcare providers to ensure that work genuinely provides a route out of poverty.

“We need to strengthen the system of support for single parents to provide a decent standard of living for them and their children.”

The charity is now calling on the Government to expand childcare support to single parents in education or training and to offer help with upfront childcare costs.

Debbie Abrahams, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “It is utterly unacceptable that single parent families are paying the price for Conservative failure.

“The increase in child poverty is a direct result of this Government’s cuts to social security, changes to universal credit and their complete failure to tackle the scourge of low-paid, insecure work.”

A Government spokesman said: “We recognise how challenging it can be for lone parents to juggle work and family life. That’s why we’ve taken steps to double free childcare, and for the most in need paying up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs under Universal Credit, to support parents back into work.

“Children living in households where someone works are less likely to be in poverty and more likely to do well in school, compared to those growing up in workless households. Our support is all about ensuring every child and family has the best chances in life.”