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Paying the Price: The impact of the Summer Budget on single parent families

'Paying the Price: The impact of the Summer Budget on single parent families' looks at the combined impact of reforms to welfare, tax and pay proposed in July 2015 on single parents in the UK.

Download the findings.

The report found:

Single parents will suffer significant losses: By 2020/21, single parents will lose 7.6 per cent (£1,300) of their income a year on average, even after taking into account tax and wage gains

Single parents are the worst hit by the combined reforms: They lose seven times more income than couple parents as a share of income, and nearly three times as much in cash terms

Low income working single parents are hit hardest: Working single parents in the poorest fifth of incomes lose more than those in the poorest fifth of incomes who are out of work.

Gingerbread is concerned that single parents are again paying the price of welfare reform, having already borne the brunt of previous cuts; we urge the government to:

Pause: The government should pause reforms until their full impact is assessed and understood, particularly in terms of income and work incentives

Reconsider: The government aims for a ‘higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare’ economy, but it must ensure this is not achieved at the expense of low income families – particularly those in work

Rebalance: The government can make alternative choices in reaching its economic and political goals – around redistributing cuts, slowing the pace of change or reallocating spending to ensure policies more effectively support low income families and make work pay.


Gingerbread press release.

The real cost of childcare: The impact of childcare costs on child poverty

The real cost of childcare, analysis commissioned from Loughborough University by Gingerbread and CPAG, looks at the extent that childcare costs bring children into poverty, building on our previous report (The childcare challenge).

Download the policy briefing and full report (PDFs).

The report found 130,000 children in working families are brought into poverty after paying for childcare costs.

If the government is committed to delivering affordable childcare, making work pay and reducing child poverty, it should:

  • Bring forward much-needed support for low income families with childcare costs: Provide the promised increase in support from 70 to 85 per cent of childcare costs under tax credits, rather than making families wait until they transfer to universal credit (not expected until at least 2019)
  • Ensure support for low income families reflects rising childcare costs: The cap on the maximum support provided under tax credits and universal credit should be raised to reflect the increase in average childcare costs in recent years
  • Review the childcare support system: A comprehensive review of childcare support is needed, to ensure the system is fit-for-purpose in delivering affordable and good quality childcare for those that need it.


•    Gingerbread press release: Childcare costs push 130,000 children into poverty.

Paying the Price: The childcare challenge

Sumi Rabindrakumar and Donald Hirsch, March 2015

Download our executive summary, the full report, or the technical paper (all PDF).

The childcare challenge focuses on single parents’ experiences of childcare and assesses the extent to which a proposed increase in support for childcare costs under universal credit will help low income families. We found that single parents are facing:

  • A strong barrier to work and study due to high childcare costs
  • Higher fees and new ‘hidden’ costs (eg paying for meals and activities)
  • Debt and childcare arrears from trying to manage high childcare costs.

More help under universal credit is welcome, but:

  • Many single parents will still not see the benefit – those with high childcare costs, particularly if they’re on a low wage, will still be far off a decent income and will lose out by working more hours
  • Is still some way off – many (if not most) single parents will still not be eligible for extra support when it is eventually introduced in 2016, as they will not yet be on universal credit.

Gingerbread is calling for:

  • Consistency: Increased support should be introduced in tax credits, not just universal credit, and brought in earlier in autumn 2015 (in line with the introduction of ‘tax-free’ childcare)
  • Fairness: The cap for childcare costs eligible for support should be raised to re-establish the principle that the majority of childcare costs are covered by state support
  • Accountability: The new government should review the childcare system by autumn 2016, to assess whether reforms will deliver affordability for all
  • Flexibility: The government should pilot ways to improve flexibility when delivering childcare support in universal credit, to manage fluctuating or up-front childcare costs.

Media coverage

Blog posts

Paying the Price: The long road to recovery

Sumi Rabindrakumar, July 2014

Download our executive summary with policy recommendations or the full report.

Alternatively, take a look at the single parent labour market story in our infographics gallery below.


The long road to recovery focuses on single parents’ experiences of working and finding work in today’s labour market. The headline findings show that single parents are facing:

  • A high risk of low pay, as well as increasing under-employment and job insecurity
  • Strong competition for the few jobs which allow them to juggle childcare duties
  • Pressure to take any job regardless of job insecurity and limited chance of pay or job progression

While single parents are doing all they can to get into the workplace, and working long hours and multiple jobs, our report shows that a job alone is no longer enough to make ends meet. Action is urgently needed to ensure single parents can earn an adequate income to support their families – particularly if the government wants to reduce welfare expenditure in the long term.

We want to see:

  • Stronger support for single parents who are increasing their working hours
  • The quicker introduction of increased support for childcare costs
  • Prioritised investment in skills- and training-focused employment support
  • Low pay, job insecurity and the lack of family-friendly working tackled, in partnership with employers



Paying the Price: Single parents in the age of austerity

Sumi Rabindrakumar, December 2013

Download our executive summary or the full report.

headline findings headline findings headline findings
headline findings headline findings headline findings

Paying the Price is the first in our reports tracking the impact of austerity on single parents over time. The paper focuses on how single parents are coping with their household finances.

The headline findings show that:

  • Single parents surveyed are struggling to cover their household bills, with many currently in arrears on regular payments – particularly on essential items such as rent/mortgage and utilities bills
  • External factors – rising living costs, welfare cuts, and barriers to earning more to make up for income losses – have placed significant pressures on single parents’ incomes
  • Single parents are proving incredibly resilient during difficult financial times by using different coping strategies to deal with lower incomes, but this is often not enough – many have had to borrow to make ends meet

By the end of 2013/14, less than 60 per cent of welfare cuts will have been implemented, so there is yet more financial pain to come. If policy-makers are serious about “a fairer and more affordable” safety net, a greater engagement with these real-life consequences of austerity is urgently needed.



Credit Crunched

Professor Mike Brewer and Dr Paolo DeAgostini, October 2013

Download our executive summary, full report, or campaign briefing

the crunch of universal credit

Credit Crunched looks at the impact on single parent families of the government’s flagship welfare programme, universal credit.

The headline findings show that:

  • 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.

As part of the analysis, we found that the government could save £436 million by getting just 5 per cent more single parents into work. We have also looked at costed recommendations for how the government could improve universal credit, and truly make work pay for single parents.



Quick round up

Download a round up of our findings from:


If you have any questions about this research, please contact Sumi Rabindrakumar