OPFS reaction: research shows families struggling with COVID-19 income drop
A new report from IPPR Scotland report has revealed that 45% of Scottish workers experienced a drop in pay during the first COVID-19 lockdown – while those who were already “struggling to get by” before the pandemic were more than twice as likely to face a drop in income compared to those who were “living comfortably”.
Now, think tank IPPR Scotland has called for urgent action to help families as a “COVID-19 winter” approaches.
- The research finds that almost half (49 per cent) of families with children were struggling to make ends meet in May, and that working parents were more likely to have experienced a significant and sustained fall in pay than workers without children.
- Over 25% of single parent families were behind on bills before the pandemic, compared to 10% of couple parents. And over 35% were in poverty after housing costs compared to a little over 10% of couple parents.
- The report notes that 73% of single parent families were classified as financially vulnerable – lacking savings to cover basis living costs for three months – compared to 34% of all households at the beginning of the year.
- “The looming employment crisis, and potential for future peaks of the virus, pose a particular threat to lone parent families, who do not have a second income to rely on, or another working-age person who might be able to go out to work,” the report adds.
- Satwat Rehman, Director
Read the full report from IPPR Scotland: ‘Weathering the winter storm: strengthening financial security in Scotland through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis’
Take a look at our calls to action for the UK Government and Scottish Government, taken from the recommendations we contributed to the Scottish Government’s evidence review on poverty in single parent families in August.
See Public Health Scotland’s paper on ‘COVID-19 and lone parent households’.
Responding to the report, Director of One Parent Families Scotland Satwat Rehman said:
“The findings from IPPR that those who were struggling before the pandemic were more likely to lose income during lockdown, and that families with children were hardest hit, are not surprising.
“This reflects everything that the single parents we work with have told us about their experiences, with many losing their jobs because they could not be performed from home or because fulfilling the expectations of doing paid work at home while schools were closed was an impossible task.
“As ever, the people who are hit hardest when times are tough are those who already had lower incomes, were in insecure work and who are balancing caring responsibilities with employment. Single parents, most of whom are women, are at the sharp end of these inequalities and this year has only made things harder.
“With ongoing restrictions in light of COVID-19, many single parent families face continued financial hardship in the months ahead. Household costs are higher during winter, which means the struggle to stay afloat is only going to get harder.
“To stop families being pushed into (or deeper into) poverty, the UK and Scottish Governments must act now to put money in the pockets of low-income families and work with lenders, providers and councils to write off COVVID-19 related debt and arrears.”
IPPR Scotland’s 5 recommendations
- The Scottish Government to introduce a new financial resilience tracker and strategy, to give early warning of financial difficulties facing people in Scotland.
- The UK Government to make its temporary uplift of up to £20 per week in Universal Credit and Tax Credits a permanent lifeline for low income families, extending the uplifts to all legacy benefits.
- The Scottish Government to invest a further £40 million to help low income families with children this winter, introducing a new Winter School Clothing grant, and backdating the first payment of the Scottish Child Payment back to when applications open.
- The Scottish Government to ensure further COVID-crisis business support comes with ‘strings attached’ to drive fair work.
- The Scottish government to work with lenders, energy providers, housing associations and councils to deliver a COVID-19 Arrears package – combining debt write-offs and interest free loans to help people and families who have built-up COVID-19-related arrears and debt for household bills.