End the Young Parent Penalty: Supporter comments

Last updated: 02/06/2021

Find comments of support from organisations backing the the campaign to End the Young Parent Penalty below.

If your organisation or group would like to sign up to support the campaign or you have other ideas on how to get involved, please get in touch to let us know at media@opfs.org.uk.

Supporting organisations:

Aberlour, the ALLIANCE (health and social care alliance Scotland), Amina - the Muslim Women's Resource Centre, British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Barnardos Scotland, Children 1st, Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection (CELCIS), Children in Northern Ireland, Children in Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, Christians Against Poverty, Citadel Youth Centre, Citizens Advice Scotland, Close the Gap, Early Years Scotland, Engender, Fife Gingerbread, Flexible Childcare Services Scotland, Gingerbread, Glasgow Disability Alliance, Home-Start UK, Includem, Inclusion Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Parenting Across Scotland, Parent Network Scotland, Poverty Alliance, Pregnant Then Screwed, Prymface, Save the Children UK, Scottish Out of School Care Network, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Women's Committee, Scottish Women's Aid, Scottish Women's Budget Group, Scottish Women's Convention, Scottish Young Greens, Shelter Scotland, Sikh Sanjog, Single Parent Rights, Single Parents Support, Single Parents Wellbeing, Surviving Economic Abuse, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), Turn2Us, Umbrella Lane, Who Cares? Scotland, Women’s Aid Federation of England, Women's Budget Group, Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales, Young Women’s Movement - YWCA Scotland, Zero Tolerance, 6VT Edinburgh City Youth Cafe.

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Aberlour supports One Parent Families Scotland’s ‘End the Young Parent Penalty Campaign’. We know that single parents, young parents and women are disproportionately affected by the impact of poverty.  

“Reducing young parents’ income as a result of moving over to Universal Credit is deeply unfair and discriminatory. This will only lead to greater financial hardship for young parents and increase the likelihood of child poverty rising further.  

“Every child has the right that their family receives the financial help they need to bring them up, and this must be equitable for all parents regardless of their age.”

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Barnardos Scotland:

“Through our work with vulnerable children and families throughout Scotland we know that poverty and destitution is at the core of the difficulties being experienced by families. Many of the families we support are struggling to afford basic necessities such as housing, adequate food, heating, clothing and basic toiletries. This daily struggle takes a toll on children’s mental health and wellbeing, and affects their ability to participate in school life. 

“The benefits system is frequently mentioned as being at the heart of the problem. The system is complex, and the amount of money available is too often inadequate. Providing young single parents with a reduced level of benefit is unfair and only serves to push young families into poverty needlessly.  

“We believe single parents under 25 need and deserve to get the same financial support as older parents. Barnardo’s Scotland is grateful to One Parent Families Scotland for highlighting this important issue and we are pleased to support their campaign to end the young parent penalty.”  

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British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS):

“We are proud to support One Parent Families Scotland’s ‘End the Young Parent Penalty Campaign’. As an organisation committed to reproductive choice, at BPAS we advocate for policies and practices that support women’s family planning decisions.

“Restricting the allowance that single parents under 25 receive compared to older parents is deeply unfair and fails to protect younger parents and their children from poverty. The cost of raising a child does not change if a parent is under 25 and the welfare system should reflect this. It is vital that all parents, regardless of their age, are able to access the same level of care and support.”

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Children Scotland:

 “The fact that parents could be penalised financially simply due to their age is shameful. The cost of raising a child does not depend on their parents’ age.   

“Before the roll-out of Universal Credit, which we have been vocal about our opposition to, single parents had the same access to benefits, regardless of age. Changing this has only increased the risk of families facing financial hardship and being trapped in poverty.   

“The benefits system is supposed to help families in need, not hinder them. The exemption for young single parents must be reinstated to ensure single parents of all ages get the helping hand they are entitled to and all children get the best start in life.” 

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Child Poverty Action Group Scotland:

“On Mother’s Day, and every day of the year, we need to celebrate and support all mums,  including younger mums. Denying young parents the same financial support as those over 25 makes no sense at all when we know that children of young lone parents are already at far greater risk of poverty.

“As the Child Poverty Action Group we have filed a judicial review claim challenging the lower standard allowance in universal credit that penalises lone parents who are under 25. It is discriminatory and its introduction failed to comply with the Equality Act 2010. We fully support OPFS campaign to end this young parent penalty.”

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Christians Against Poverty

“CAP fully supports the End the Young Parent Penalty Campaign. Over a quarter (28%) of new CAP clients, struggling with problem debt, in 2020 were single parents. Our clients also tell us low income is the most common reason why they find themselves in debt which highlights the need for this issue to be addressed.

“It cannot be right that single mums and dads are given less Universal Credit to live on just because they are under the age of 25. Single parents should not have to worry about how they are going to feed their children, or forced into debt and further poverty because of an arbitrary limit in the benefits system that is meant to
support them.”

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Citizens Advice Scotland:

“Universal Credit was already inadequate before the pandemic began but the refusal to uplift any other benefits like Income Support and child tax credits pushed many to make the jump to the new benefit. The Chancellor’s decision to now cut the £20 a week uplift cut in September will have a huge impact for people on low incomes.

£That £20 a week is a drop of almost a quarter of the Basic Allowance for a single parent under 25. Ending the Young Parent Penalty is the right thing to do and will help those families most in need to keep their head above water as we move out of the pandemic.”

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Close the Gap:

“COVID-19 job disruption has disproportionately impacted young women’s employment. Young women are more likely to work in a shutdown sector such as hospitality and retail; are at particular risk of furlough; and are at greater risk of redundancy over the course of the crisis. In January 2021, 39% of female workers aged under 18 were furloughed, as were almost a quarter of those aged 18-24. Single parents have also been disproportionately affected by the need for more unpaid care during the crisis, impacting their ability to do paid work with clear implications for women’s financial security. 

“This is particularly significant as young women with caring responsibilities, particularly single parents, were already more likely to be experiencing poverty prior to the crisis. The pandemic has therefore placed these women and their children at even greater risk of poverty, adding to a growing child poverty crisis. At a time where young single parents require a lifeline, the decision to remove the exemption creates a perfect storm for a rising tide of poverty among young women.

“Close the Gap supports the campaign to end the young parent penalty, recognising that social security must function as an anti-poverty measure for young women with caring responsibilities who face numerous barriers to good quality employment.”

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Early Years Scotland:

Early Years Scotland (EYS) fully supports OPFS’ End Young Parent Penalty Campaign. It is extremely unfair that those under 25 are losing money when they move onto Universal Credit as their child turns five – money that they rely on in order to feed, clothe and support their families.

“As an organisation, EYS believes strongly in giving all children in Scotland the best start in life. Removing vital financial support from young parents, the majority of whom are women, perpetuates a cycle of inequality which does not afford all children the same opportunities.

“As an organisation, EYS sees first-hand the impact of poverty and deprivation on the children and families we work with. We therefore do not hesitate to support calls for this unfair system, which pushes young families into, or further into, poverty, often at extremely short notice, to come to an end.”

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“We can’t end children’s poverty without ending women’s poverty, and the young parent penalty will have a significant impact on many women’s incomes, choices, and wellbeing. Social security is a vital tool to protect people from hardship in Scotland but by disadvantaging people – whether because of their age, their sex, or their parental status – Universal Credit runs the risk of further entrenching women’s inequality.  

 “We’re proud to support the campaign to end the young parent penalty and make social security work for all.” 

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Fife Gingerbread:

“Fife Gingerbread is proud to support this campaign to address the financial inequalities that young lone parents face. The cost of raising a child does not differ based on the age of the parent and our welfare system should reflect this. We have been supporting families in Fife since 1987 and, from experience, we know that young parents are often a particularly vulnerable group. 

“Here at Fife Gingerbread we are committed to creating brighter todays and better tomorrows for children and young people, and by supporting this campaign we have an opportunity to raise awareness and inspire decision makers to act now. 

“The events of the last year have been extraordinary, and unfortunately the impact has often been felt hardest by the most vulnerable in our communities. Many young lone parent families already face challenges and stigma and we cannot accept that their income is different simply because of their age. A change to this anomaly in Universal Credit will alleviate some of the financial pressures that young lone parent families face and help parents give their child the best possible start in life.” 

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Gingerbread fully supports the ‘End the Young Parent Penalty’ campaign from One Parent Families Scotland. Single parents are disproportionately affected by the impact of poverty and it is deeply unfair that those under 25 face even more pressure on their incomes due to arbitrary age rules within Universal Credit. Young single parents should be entitled to the same benefits as single parents aged 25 and over, and we support their call for the UK Government to act.

“The pandemic has hit single parents hard. Our research shows they have been more likely than coupled parents to have lost working hours, income and even their jobs. And to add to this, young single parents are further penalised by Universal Credit simply because they’re under 25. The UK government must rectify this failure in the system and ensure all single parents, regardless of their age, are treated fairly.”

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Glasgow Disability Alliance:

“Glasgow Disability Alliance has over 5000 disabled members including disabled parents and single parents of disabled children. We fully support the campaign to end the young parent penalty and we call on the UK government to reinstate the support for young single parents that was in place before Universal Credit was introduced.

“We recognise the challenges of meeting the costs of caring for a child alone and firmly believe that this inequality must be addressed as a priority in order to tackle inequality and give all children the best start in life.”

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Inclusion Scotland:

As children in families with a disabled parent and disabled children are more likely to be living in poverty it is vital that they receive all the help they can through the benefits system. The UK Government should do the right thing and restore young lone parents’ entitlement to the over 25/adult Universal Credit rate.” 

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Parenting Across Scotland:

“Prices aren’t any cheaper when you’re younger. Young parents need the same amount of money to look after their children as older parents. It’s totally unfair that parents who are under 25 are penalised because of their age.”

Parent Network Scotland:

“Today even more so we need a caring society that supports and protects families, especially young families, from poverty and allowing them to live with dignity and hope. The young parent penalty faced by single parents, the vast majority of whom are women, builds inequality into a system right from the start.

“That stops hope, self-determination and enabling young families to prosper, thereby increasing the chances of families living in poverty. A young family does not need less to live on so why should they be penalised? Let’s start to get things right and change this for the sake of families and children.”

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Poverty Alliance:

“Our social security system should act as an anchor that keeps families afloat, rather than pulling them under. So it cannot be right that young lone parents – who are overwhelmingly women – receive less financial support than other parents. This has a real impact on young women and children across the country; with the grip of poverty tightening on their lives.

“If we want to protect children and families from poverty and growing hardship, we simply have to end the young parent penalty.”

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Scottish Women’s Budget Group

“We need a caring social security system that protects people from poverty and allows them to live with dignity. The young parent penalty faced by young single parents, the vast majority of whom are women, builds inequality into the system and increases the chance of families living in poverty.

“This needs to change to give young families a better start. The cost of raising a family isn’t any less for parents under 25, so neither should their access to social security.”

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Scottish Women’s Convention

“The Scottish Women’s Convention back OPFS’s End the Young Parent Penalty Campaign. No society should penalise parents simply for their age. Not only does this contribute to child poverty and a perception of younger parents as ‘undeserving’, it fails to recognise the gendered impact of such on young women and their families.

“If we truly want to live in a society that recognises and responds to child poverty, a social security system that works for all is crucial. We thank OPFS for raising this important issue and stand in support with their campaign.”

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Shelter Scotland:

“Having a safe affordable home is a human right that should be available to us all. We know that children who experience homelessness and bad housing can be impacted for the rest of their lives. Punishing children and young parents is cruel.

“The consequences of this short-sighted policy will be felt elsewhere in the system as people struggle to keep a home and young people face greater barriers to succeeding socially and academically. We fully support One Parent Families Scotland in this campaign and hope others will join them in standing with young parents for an end to this cold-hearted policy.”

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Single Parent Rights:

“Single Parent Rights fully supports The End the Young Parent Penalty campaign and calls on the government to ensure young single parents are entitled to the same benefits as others. Children aren’t cheaper because their parents are younger, in fact we have found that young single parents often face heightened stigma and discrimination. This oversight is another example of young parents being treated unfairly.

“We call on the government to address this so young single parents and their families can have the best start in life.”   

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Umbrella Lane:

“Umbrella Lane supports OPFS’s campaign ‘End the Young Parent Penalty’ as many of the community we support are young mothers who are struggling to meet their basic needs and provide for themselves and their families. This community have felt the effects of the pandemic disproportionally, and we know first hand that many have turned to sex work to survive and to clothe and feed their children.

“The pandemic has created a crisis of mental health, particularly among young women. As a wellbeing project, we know that until the basic needs of these young mothers are met, they can’t engage meaningfully with the wellbeing services we offer that support greater fulfilment and happiness. We know that poverty has a negative effect on health – by health, we mean mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing and social wellbeing, therefore anything we can do to counteract these negative effects must be prioritised.

“We feel that at this time, vulnerable young mothers need more financial support to avoid the impacts of poverty and deprivation and the fact that they receive less money is completely unjust. We believe that the only way to avoid generational deprivation is to support these mothers from a young age and empower them not discriminate against them because of their youth.”

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Who Cares Scotland?:

“Who Cares? Scotland is a rights-based influencing organisation working with people who have experience of the care system through individual and collective independent advocacy. We aim to provide Care Experienced people with knowledge of their rights and the support needed to empower them to positively participate in the formal structures and processes they are often subject to solely because of their care experience.

“We advocate for many young parents on a range of issues, including how to gain financial security and stability to support themselves and their family. Through support offers like our helpline we continually see issues with how social security is delivered across Scotland, including the impact of gaps in support, hardship experienced from punitive measures such as sanctions and the difficulties with bureaucratic, uncaring processes.

“These issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic and many Care Experienced people who reached out to Who Cares? Scotland for support during the past year have had to rely on social security systems for financial support. We have heard consistently from young Care Experienced parents experiencing financial hardship about the very real challenges they are facing when interacting with the social security process and that levels of support are often inadequate. This is why we are supporting this important campaign to end the young parent penalty by reinstating the exemption for single parents under 25.”

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Women’s Budget Group:

Single mums face a magnified struggle to combine paid work with caring responsibilities and the consequence is that single parents are one of the groups more likely to live in poverty. This lays bare the inadequacy of the UK’s childcare system and the social security safety net. Single parents under 25 face the same costs to raise a family as older parents and it is not right that they should be disadvantaged under Universal Credit.” 

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Zero Tolerance:

We wish to express our strong support for the One Parent Families Campaign – End Young Parent Penalty in Universal Credit.  

We condemn the UK Government’s unjust and appalling decision to remove the exemption to the lower rate of standard allowance for under 25s who are single parents. The ramifications of this decision are catastrophic to many women and children who were at a higher risk of poverty even before the pandemic.  

Women, who make up the majority of lone parents in the UK, are already disproportionately affected by the pandemic and are now being pushed even further into poverty by this policy. 

It is also important to highlight that COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating many pre-existing inequalities and the negative impact of this policy on Black, ethnic minority, disabled and minoritized women will be even more extensive. 

Moreover, there are reports of women entering or re-entering prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation as a result of current economic challenges thus depriving them of this essential support makes them more vulnerable to this and other forms of violence against women.  

Taking into consideration the disastrous effect this policy is already having on the lives of women, children and young people, we urge the UK Government to end the ‘young parent penalty’ in Universal Credit and reinstate the exemption to the lower rate of standard allowance for under 25s who are single parents.