Single parent priorities for the Scottish Parliament election

In our last monthly newsletter and across our social media channels, we shared a poll asking single parents about their priorities for the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections (6 May). Now, we share what parents told us.


65 single parents responded to our poll. First, we asked parents to select their top 3 priorities from a range of policy areas (listed alongside the chart below).

The top five priorities of single parents who responded were:

  • education (schools) (60%)
  • mental health (50.8%)
  • social security (35.4%)
  • childcare (30.8%)
  • stigma around single parents (23.1%).

The next most common priorities were housing (21.5%), employment (20%) and Covid-19 response (18.5%), followed by health (13.8%) and education (colleges and universities) (9.2%).

It should be noted that at the time that the poll was sent out, schools were closed and this may have influenced this issue being such a high priority for parents.

We only asked about policy areas which are devolved (or partially devolved), but in the written responses several parents also raised the issue of child maintenance.

Survey results: the data

These were the top 5 most popular priorities selected by parents when we asked them to choose their top 3 from the following list:

Covid-19 response
Education (colleges and universities)
Education (schools)
Health and the NHS
Mental health
Leisure, sports and culture
Public transport
Social security (benefits)
Stigma around single parent families

Written comments

We asked parents to tell us a bit more about what they most want to see politicians campaigning for this election, and why. Here we share a selection of responses on the most frequently mentioned topics.


Education (schools)

Better support in education for children/young people with support needs... deafness, dyslexia, dyspraxia etc. Her mainstream school seem to cater more for children with autism. My daughter was also badly let down after being bullied throughout secondary. She left school at 15 with Nat 3 as a result of poor support from staff. One teacher and one pupil support staff in a class of up to 15 kids with various support needs.

Mental health

I would like to see more support for all round mental health for single parents. I have noticed single parents are just pushed to the extremes and left to just get on with it all.
A boost to CAMHS [Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services] across the country, with additional support for children from single parent households.
Getting the economy back on track and looking at mental health provision for all.

Social security

Social security benefits no longer give security; amounts are too low making it difficult for families not to live in poverty regardless of how well the parent manages their family budget.
Help with people who have disability and the rate to be changed for young carers.
I want politicians to campaign for universal basic income and more help for childcare to help more parents back into work.


There needs to be more support for single parent families, regardless of gender. Childcare should cover the whole year for those not in school as this is very expensive. The social security system needs to be more supportive of one parent families.
A more equal society in terms of access to health services, jobs, childcare and education. Recognition that much more of the ‘burden’ of childcare falls on mothers rather than fathers and that this has significant, long lasting impact on many aspects of the mother’s life including (although not limited to) career. This has been much exacerbated by Covid-19 pandemic and distribution of caring responsibilities.


I want to see single parents recognised as actual parents and not looked down when we ask for help. They need to remember that normal families have two caregivers [which] gives each a break say to nap or go do something. When you're single you don't get that. Extra support or extra hours at nursery/after school clubs could help support single parent families.
Giving Single Parents equality. No more discrimination.
More respect and consideration for single parents and their children’s wellbeing.


I think there should me more accessible ways to be in with a chance of secure housing. I am in a private let in rent arrears and have been told I have no chance of a council house unless I am homeless but even then they will need to decide if I have made myself intentionally homeless or not.
I've been stuck in private rented accommodation and would love to be appropriately rehoused, this has affected my mental health. Education is also very important as i have a pre-schooler about to start school.


During Covid the amount of single parents that have been forgotten about. Most single parents first to be put on furlough and first to lose jobs. Given the rise in unemployment I would like to see exclusive deals for single parents to gain good jobs and be a spring step to end child poverty.
Reducing the number of working families using food banks. Flexible working for parents to avoid the need for expensive childcare especially during school holidays.

Child maintenance

In private let housing I’m sharing a room with two daughters, son has other room. Can’t afford to find bigger house while on Universal Credit and benefit cap and non-resident parent not paying a penny to help raise our kids while CMS [Child Maintenance Service] don’t deal with it! Too many loopholes.
Enforce the law for avoiders of paying child maintenance. Especially for self-employed who hide and lie about their true income.