End the Young Parent Penalty: Olivia's story
Last updated: 14/04/2023
Olivia is a 22-year-old single mum, based in Glasgow. Olivia shares her experience of transferring from the legacy benefits system to Universal Credit and how the Young Parent Penalty has impacted on her.
I got moved on to Universal Credit because my mum was self-employed and she used to get Housing Benefit to cover our house but then her hours went down and they weren’t going to help with any payments so she had to move on to Universal Credit. Because she’s self-employed it works a different way with your assessment period and stuff, so she was starting college and she’d went two days before she started and stopped her Universal Credit claim.
They said they weren’t going to pay her for two months because she hadn’t stopped her claim within her assessment period. My mum was in two month’s rent arrears that she couldn’t afford, and she had to become homeless. I was going to become homeless if I stayed under my mum’s roof, so she signed the house over to me and I had to go onto Universal Credit so I didn’t become homeless.
I used to be on Jobseeker’s Allowance, which was a bit more money than Universal Credit, so I was losing out on money on that, and because I’m under 25 I’d be getting even less money. I don’t understand how someone over 25 gets more for being in the same situation that I am. I’m a single parent as much as a 25-year-old is a single parent, we both need to buy the same things.
End the Young Parent Penalty
Parents under 25 are entitled to a lower amount of benefits than parents aged 25 and over.
People under 25 were already entitled to a lower rate before the introduction of Universal Credit, but there used to be an exemption for single parents in recognition of the cost of caring for a child alone. Now, that exemption has been removed.
Find out more about One Parent Families Scotland’s campaign to reinstate the exemption for young single parents and ensure that all children have the same level of support, regardless of their parents’ age.
Sign the petition to call on the UK Government to restore the adult rate to single parents under 25.
I go to a group with One Parent Families Scotland and there were a few girls that were also under 25 and they were on Jobseeker’s and I was like “how are you getting more than me for being in the same situation?” It doesn’t make sense at all.
On Jobseeker’s Allowance you got your child benefit and child tax credits every Monday and then you got your own money every two weeks, so weren’t ever going without money, whereas with Universal Credit you can either get it every two weeks and your money’s halved or you can get it every month. But I just don’t see why there’s a difference of money to Jobseeker’s Allowance, I don’t get it at all.
Even though they’ve put the money up on Universal Credit during the pandemic, it’s not really going to help when the money gets cut again because people are going to get used to having that bit extra money which helps you, and then they’re going to cut it. Even just now I’m struggling with Universal Credit. When I was 16 on an apprenticeship with Glasgow City Council I was getting more money than I am now on Universal Credit with a baby.
And when I was moving house that was stressful because you had to say in your assessment period when you were moving, and because of what happened to my mum I thought, I don’t want that to happen to me and they’ll stop my claim. It was even stressful trying to find out if that would happen to me, but my coach said no, but sometimes I don’t even trust what they say because I feel like they’re out to get you to not have any money, to stop it. That’s the way it feels when you’re dealing with them.