OPFS response: Child Poverty Delivery Plan Progress Report
One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) has welcomed the Scottish Government’s fourth annual progress report on its Child Poverty Delivery Plan, published today (29 June), while stressing the need for urgent action.
OPFS Chief Executive Satwat Rehman commented:
“Today’s update on child poverty from the Scottish Government underlines what single parents have been telling us: the challenges being faced by low-income families are immense, but they are not inevitable.
“Governments can make decisions that lift children out of poverty, and we are pleased that the Scottish Government has taken several important steps over the past year to support this, such as putting more money in families’ pockets through social security and investing in affordable housing.
“This stands in contrast to the UK Government, which has no strategy to end child poverty, and the impacts of this are plain to see.
“However, this only emphasises why the Scottish Government can and must do more – because it makes a real difference to children’s lives.
“To meet its child poverty targets amid the rising cost of living, the government will need to continue to increase the Scottish Child Payment, take urgent action to reduce the cost of the school day, and support a transformation to a fairer labour market by breaking down the barriers faced by women and single parents.”
A case study from a parent supported by OPFS Dundee with funding through ‘No One Left Behind’ and the Parental Employability Support Fund, was used as part of the report:
“Sam* is a single mother with two children, aged 5 and 7. Her Jobcentre Plus work coach made a referral to the OPFS pathway as she was struggling with completing forms and had a lack of confidence in applying for job vacancies as well as concerns over childcare arrangements and the impact on her social security benefits. Sam had wanted to work but her anxiety and lack of confidence had previously prevented her from applying for paid work or attending interviews.
OPFS Dundee worked in partnership with Sam through weekly support sessions which focused on her lack of confidence and the root causes. In the first instance Sam’s confidence issues stemmed from her severe anxiety. Sam’s keyworker spoke about the impact this was having on her and how Sam would like her life to be in the future. She was supported along to group -based sessions which gave advice and examples of coping strategies. OPFS staff also worked one on one to pick out Sam’s transferable skills and looked at how she could apply these in the workplace.
An action plan of steps was compiled. Sam explored childcare options along with her OPFS key worker and was supported to complete a range of different job applications both online and paper based. Advice was also given on the financial impact of different employment options to ensure the family income improves and financial stability is maintained.
Over the next few months, again on a weekly basis, Sam and her key worker looked for suitable vacancies particularly to ensure they would match with the childcare available. Support was provided to complete applications, having someone to look over her applications before submitting gave a huge boost to Sam’s confidence and self-esteem. Sam then gained employment with a local bus depot cleaning the buses and was delighted, the post was 15 hours per week and fitted in well with the school times.
Sam is now in part-time employment which fits in with childcare and family life. She is not only financially better off but this has improved her confidence significantly and opened a new social circle to her. OPFS continues to support her in work with any issues that arise, such as problems with Universal Credit or childcare, so they can be dealt with quickly to ensure her employment is sustained.”
Satwat Rehman added: “Sam’s story, highlighted in the government’s progress report, is exactly why we believe that tailored employability support for single parents and carers is so important. We are keen to work closely with the Scottish Government in future to support the roll-out of programmes of this kind.”