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Home Policy and campaigns Campaign with us General Election 2017
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General Election 2017

The election is now over and a new government is being formed. We are keeping a close eye on political developments to better understand how we can create positive change for single parent families. 

The general election was an opportunity for single parents to have their voices heard by the candidates who were seeking their vote. Gingerbread set out three key areas that single parents tell us time and time again are of critical importance to them:

1. More affordable childcare to enable parents to make genuine choices on work and care.

This includes: 

Shift eligibility criteria for the government’s flagship 30 hours to include those in education and training

The current policy of 30 hours free childcare for those already in work needs to be much more effectively targeted. Shifting the criteria to include those in education and training, as well as part-time work, will enable many more single parents to benefit.

Make good on promised childcare support 

The government has promised that under the new universal credit welfare system, it will support 85 per cent of childcare costs for working claimants – up from 70 per cent for those on working tax credits. But roll-out of universal credit is slow and some single parents might not see that extra support until 2022. The money already committed to this extra support should therefore be made available to those on tax credits.

A deposit guarantee to support parents with the upfront costs of childcare

Many single parents are locked out of work by the upfront costs of childcare– but their first pay cheque at a new job won’t come until the end of the month. Our ‘Upfront’ proposal is a childcare deposit guarantee that would cover a parent’s first payment. This has already been adopted by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

2. Supporting parents to ‘make work pay’ to protect families from an increased risk of poverty.

This includes: 

Reverse the cuts to the work allowance to protect working single parents

The cuts to work allowance will affect 1m single parents once fully rolled out. Working single parents will lose £800 per year on average compared to the current system (if fully rolled out by 2020/21) – and some will lose well over £2000 a year. And it is working single parents in the poorest fifth of households who are set to be worst off as a proportion of income – losing 7%, nearly a month’s income.

Suspend conditionality requirements for parents of 3 and 4 year olds

Increased ‘conditionality’ (the conditions people have to meet to receive benefits) will mean that 165,000 single parents of 3 and 4 year olds are at risk of being sanctioned if they are not actively seeking work. With childcare costs high and flexible work opportunities rare, this policy risks driving more single parents into poverty.

Exempt parents of 0-2s from the benefit cap 

The government’s benefit cap sets a limit on the amount of financial support any family can receive. But it comes at a time when there is an absence of flexible, well-paid jobs while living costs (including childcare) continue to rise. Parents of 0-2 year olds, who struggle the hardest to balance work and care, should be made exempt – or risk driving the most vulnerable families into poverty.

Tailor support through training and education leading to sustainable work

While the single parent employment rate has greatly increased over the last two decades, single parents are still frequently in a financially unstable position – even when in work. Single parents are particularly likely to be trapped in low-paid work. Gingerbread are calling for tailored support plus investment in training and education, which would lead to more sustainable work for single parents and long-term savings for the government.

3. A fairer child maintenance system to ensure that children get the support they are entitled to

This includes: 

Scrap child maintenance service charges

Every parent should be able to access the child maintenance service so that their children receive the support that they are entitled to. But single parents have to pay twice – once to enter the service, and then a second time if the collection service is needed due to the other parent not paying.  At a time when awareness of child maintenance eligibility is low and around half of single parents receive no maintenance, the government should be encouraging, not obstructing, take-up. The government should improve access by introducing a means test for the application fee and scrapping the collection charge for receiving parents.

Ensure zero tolerance on child maintenance avoidance and non-payment

Despite widespread reforms, the new child maintenance system still has not addressed loopholes which allow maintenance to be avoided or evaded. Similarly, the CMS risks repeating old mistakes around enforcement, with a lack of proactive action and reluctance to use legal powers. The government should widen grounds to challenge maintenance calculations, increase access to HMRC information, and ensure its new arrears strategy includes an intensive push on enforcement.’

With single parent families making up one in four families in the UK, we hope that newly elected MPs use the opportunity to promote policies that will make the country fairer for everyone.

Our chief executive, Rosie Ferguson, discusses the key issues that Gingerbread continues to campaign for to improve the lives of single parents:

Gingerbread has a responsibility to campaign in line with the Charity Commission's guidelines. Find out what this meant during the general election.


Claire1808c avatar
12 May 2017 17:59

I whole heartedly agree with the earlier comment by nicth. My ex husband has recently gone self employed and my payment plan has dropped to £0. How can this be? And why is child maintenance never mentioned in any of the parties manifestos. They all talk about increasing tax or lowering vat buy why does nobody seem to want to discuss Child Maintenance and those few who are evading the tax system in order to avoid paying maintenance. Tax evasion is against the law. It is fraud. So why is not paying child maintenance a crime?

nicth avatar
08 May 2017 13:44

Hi, I agree with all of the above three areas. Critical importance to me is addressing the issue with the self employed who can easily hid their income and pay next to no child maintenance. Thank you for the work that you do Gingerbread - it's so important as we can't pursue the issue through the courts ourselves, as legally we are not entitled to (which I believe is seriously unfair). I would vote for a party which would give me back control, as the CSM/CSA is not doing their job to protect children from people who don't want to pay for thier children. Thank you.

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