Tackling single parent poverty after coronavirus


This report – based on new research by Learning and Work Institute and Gingerbread – explores the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on single parents, and sets out what can be done to reduce single parent poverty after the pandemic.

While there were more single parents in work on the eve of the pandemic than ever before, many single parents remained trapped in low pay and in-work poverty.

New analysis suggests that the pandemic is hitting single parents harder. Single parents are more likely to have lost hours and to have lost income in recent months. They are more likely both to have been furloughed, and to have lost their jobs – with a risk that the single parent employment gap has widened as a result of the pandemic. Given the greater impact on their employment, single parents are also more likely to be struggling financially and to be concerned about their future finances.

This is due to a double impact from the pandemic on single parent families. Single parents are more likely to have been working in the industries and the jobs that have been hit hardest, and they have experienced greater disruption as a result of the closure of childcare and schools earlier in the crisis. Given a greater impact on employment and incomes for a group that was already facing significant disadvantage, the coronavirus pandemic risks both deepening pre-existing inequalities, and pushing more single parents and children into poverty.

Based on our findings and on discussions with single parents impacted by the pandemic, we have developed a four-point plan to tackle poverty and promote access to good work after the pandemic:

  • Provide high quality employment and skills support for single parents;
  • Support the creation of high quality flexible and part time jobs;
  • Improve childcare support including providing better help with the upfront costs of childcare;
  • Ensure our social security system provides sufficient and effective support.