Traditional family model of fathers as sole breadwinners is leaving children in poverty
Call for more help for families to become dual-earning households
Emily Dugan is Social Affais Editor for The Independent, i and Independent on Sunday. She was previously a news reporter for The Independent on Sunday. Her investigations into human trafficking have twice been awarded Best Investigative Article at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards and her human rights journalism was shortlisted for the Gaby Rado Memorial prize at the 2012 Amnesty Media Awards. Emily is on sabbatical until March 2015
Social Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 13 November 2013
The traditional model of fathers as families' sole breadwinners is leaving children in poverty, according to research published today.
The largest group of working households with children living in poverty are those where one parent goes out to work while the other - typically the mother - stays at home looking after the kids, research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows. Their analysis suggests that for many, the family set up favoured by traditionalists is not a viable route out of hardship.
Of the 1.3m families living in poverty in Britain, 31 per cent - or 400,000 - are those where one parent goes out to work. Almost half as many families, 210,000, are in poverty when both parents are earning.
Katie Schmuecker, Policy and Research Manager at JRF, said: "The traditional family model where one parent - usually dad - goes out to work and supports his family does not offer a guaranteed route out of poverty in Britain today. Our low pay jobs market means many families that are reliant on a single breadwinner find it hard to make ends meet.
"Measures like the Living Wage, supporting people to progress into better jobs and ensuring it always pays to work more will all help increase household incomes. So too will helping more families to become dual-earning households. This means we have to tackle the barriers that prevent people that want to work from doing so - such as unaffordable childcare, and the lack of financial incentive to work. Otherwise many parents and their children may find themselves trapped in poverty with little prospect of bettering their situation."
Households where neither parent has any job at all are still the poorest, with 43 per cent of workless families living in poverty.
A second report from the think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) out today (TUESPM) gives some background to the problems facing single-earner families and highlights the need for Government to provide more support with childcare to enable both parents to work.
Kayte Lawton, senior research fellow at IPPR, said: "Many fathers work long hours, making it harder for them get involved in family life and more difficult for more mothers in poorer families to work. Childcare enables parents with young children to work, particularly mothers, but remains expensive for many poor families and needs to be made more affordable. Despite some improvements in the jobs market, many mothers can only access poorly paid, part-time jobs because of their childcare responsibilities. Addressing the cost of childcare would enable more mothers to work, boosting household incomes and helping tackle in-work poverty."
Jan Gray, 47, from Dover, stays at home while her husband Adrian, 42, works.
"My husband works at a chemicals factory and is one rung up from the bottom. We have three children, aged 16, 14 and 7 and I look after them. It is getting harder to survive on one income because the price of everything has jumped. A £60 shop is now £80 and our heating bills have doubled. It puts a lot of pressure on my husband as the only earner. I want to go out and work as a teaching assistant but if I earn £120 a week I would lose £110 in benefits, including a carers allowance for my 14-year-old who is disabled. That would wipe out my earnings. I think families are better off if both parents work, but only if they have family who can help with childcare.
The other problem with only having one earner is the instability, because if that person loses their job then you lose everything."
- 1 End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
- 2 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 3 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...
£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...