Single mothers benefits myth exposed as figures show two thirds now in a job

Percentage of single parents now in employment is on a par with the percentage of women without children in jobs

Rachael Pells
Sunday 20 August 2017 16:55
Comments

Single mothers are just as likely to be in work as women who have no children, official figures show, busting preconceived myths that they are more dependent on state welfare.

More than two-thirds (67.8 per cent) of single parents – overwhelmingly women – are now in employment, up from 43.8 per cent just over 20 years ago.

By comparison, the percentage of women without children, or who have grown-up children, and have jobs sits at just one point higher (68.6 per cent).

Three out of four married or cohabiting mothers have jobs, according to the Office for National Statistics figures, published this summer to reflect the period between January and March.

Responding to the figures, Paul Gregg, a board member of the Social Mobility Commission, said single mothers had long been “demonised” by the government and media, but that the “link between long-term welfare dependency and lone parenthood has been fundamentally solved”.

Single mothers have historically been labelled “benefits scroungers” as a result of societal attitudes towards those who relied on help from state welfare.

"The Conservative Party back then declared war on lone mothers and lone mothers won – with the help of social policy reforms,” said Mr Gregg.

At a 1993 Tory party conference, former secretary for social security Peter Lilley labelled such women “benefits-driven” and “undeserving”.

Incentives introduced by the Labour government, such as tax credits and increased childcare spending, followed by a move towards withdrawing benefits from those able to work, led to an increase in the number of single parents getting back into work.

“The 1980s and early 90s saw a very sharp increase in the numbers of lone parents, and with their very low employment rate contributed heavily to both the fact that one in five children was growing up in a workless household and to the huge rise in child poverty,” said Mr Gregg.

“Lone mothers were demonised by the then Conservative Party and sympathetic media and were widely seen as the major social policy problem of the day.

“Since then… tax credits [for] part-time work, supported by increasingly available childcare, [has made it] financially viable for lone mothers.

“From 2008, conditionality for mothers to actively seek work has produced a transformational change in lone mothers’ employment and workless poverty. The problem now is working poverty on low wages and low hours,” he added.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in