Freeing low-income single parents from in-work poverty’s grip

Last updated: 17/06/2021

As a society, we do not want to see children growing up in poverty, with severely restricted opportunities to reach their potential. In Scotland, we have rightly committed to significantly reducing child poverty, but we know that some families face greater constraints than others. Many single-parent families are locked in poverty by a combination of multiple barriers and injustices in the labour market.

- Briefing report, Freeing low-income single parents from in-work poverty’s grip

New research, carried out by consultants Iffat Shahnaz and Talat Yaqoob as part of The Collective working with One Parent Families Scotland for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, finds that Scotland’s labour market is not working for single parents.

The report outlines nine priority areas to support parents in the labour market.

Key Points

  • Of the 230,000 children in poverty in Scotland, 90,000 live in single-parent households.
  • Working with this group is vital if we are to reach the Scottish Child Poverty targets by 2030, and to prevent more children growing up in hardship.
  • COVID-19 has exacerbated the injustices already felt by low-income single parents. The sectors where many single parents (predominantly women) are employed have been hardest hit.
  • Single parents are often trapped into poverty by a combination of factors; the escalating cost of childcare, increasing costs of living (particularly housing), a lack of quality flexible and part-time job roles, and a security system which is not fit for purpose as regards their lives.
  • Many of the issues highlighted here are not new, indeed they are structural issues that single parents have been raising for years. They are growing frustrated that while their voices are being heard, their experience is not changing.

Download the report to learn more about the research, what single parents said about their experiences, and the recommendations for action.