Credit crunched: single parents, universal credit and the struggle to make work pay

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October 15, 2013


Gingerbread has published a major academic report that looks at the impact on single parent families of the government’s flagship welfare programme, universal credit. We are concerned that, far from achieving the reform’s stated goal of “making work pay”, many single parents could actually lose out in cash terms under the new system.

Universal credit, which is being gradually introduced across the country from this October onwards, is rolling together six separate benefits into one payment. This is being done in order to simplify the system. The government has emphasised that this new welfare scheme is being designed to ‘make work pay - at each and every hour’,: encouraging people to move into work, or increase their working hours.

Our research suggests that for many single parents, work still won’t pay under universal credit. In particular we have found that:

As a group, single parents face a real-terms cash loss under universal credit
Universal credit does achieve one of its aims: single parents who aren’t working will be better off if they move into work than is currently the case
But of all household types, working single parents are the worst affected when it comes to benefitting from working more hours, meaning many families will be trapped in low hours, low paid jobs.
But, we didn’t want to leave our analysis there.
Our briefing, based on this new research, includes clear, costed recommendations on ways that the government could improve the scheme, and truly make work pay for single parents.





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