One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) are urging the government to act to increase support for single parents after a new study showed the majority are struggling to afford basic household bills.
The charity One Parent Families Scotland has a number of priorities they say the government needs to focus on[/caption]
The research from the charity titled ‘Living without a Lifeline’ found that 97.9% of single parents surveyed were being impacted by the cost of living crisis according to STV News.
One parent told the charity’s research: “I just feel that I’m totally on my own financially.
“We can’t claim free school meals or any grants because I’m not on benefits (except Child Benefit).
“Outgoings are increasing, I am as frugal as I can be, my pay was frozen for three years and now I have a 2% cost of living increase.
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“I feel forgotten about.
“I cut my own hair, I skip meals, I scrimp on heating etc so I can pay the mortgage.
“There is no support for us from anyone.
Of those surveyed three in five, 61.1%, said they are finding it either hard to afford or no could no longer afford electricity.
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Similarly, 58.1% said the same about their gas and 43.7% said they found it difficult to afford or could not afford their food.
Furthermore, one in five said they were also having issues affording clothes, the cost of travel or childcare.
The majority of single parents surveyed were women as national statistics show that 925 of single parent households are led by woman.
OPFS are now calling on the government to increase the support being offered to single parent households.
According to STV News they have demanded:
- An increase in support to families with young parents who are the poorest in Scotland through a top-up to the Scottish Child Payment
- Double the planned “bridging payments” for families with children in receipt of free school meals from £130 to £260
- Uprate Scotland’s eight social security payments by the rate of inflation- 10% in August 22 and predicted by the Bank of England to hit 13.3% in October
- Widen eligibility for school clothing grants and free school meals to all families on Universal Credit by legislating to remove all income thresholds
- Increase the value and widen eligibility to the new Scottish Carer’s Assistance payment so it reaches many more Carers
- Raise increased finances through devolved taxes. Since 2017, the Scottish Parliament has had the ability to set income tax rates and bands, apart from the personal allowance.
The charity are also urging the UK Government to act to help hard-up single parent families.
Satwat Rehman, OPFS CEO said: “Living without a lifeline is exactly what so many single parents who took part in our research and who reach out to our services every day say they are doing, which is why we chose this as the title for our report.
“Women who are single parents have been particularly hard hit by the economic storm… with women’s poverty being inextricably linked to child poverty, we are living amid a rising tide of family hardship.
“Single parents described the day-to-day struggle to afford food and fuel, and the need to make sacrifices to ensure that children’s basic needs were met.
“In some cases, mothers go without food and struggle to pay essential bills.
“Isolation, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts were described.
“The parents responding have also forcefully described the policy areas which must be prioritised by government to tackle poverty and support family wellbeing and the priority areas where we at OPFS need to focus our energies. Over the coming year, these priorities will be our priorities.”
Speaking to STV News, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Universal Credit should be paid at the same amount, no matter the age of the person applying.
“This would help many people and families who are facing hardship due to this age discrimination that the UK Government has introduced.
“This is in contrast to the significant support the Scottish Government is supplying to all low income parents.
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“By the end of 2022, the Scottish Government’s package of five family payments will be worth over £10,000 for eligible families on the lowest incomes by the time their first child turns six – and £9,700 for subsequent children.
“This includes the Scottish Child Payment which we doubled to £20 per child per week in April and will increase again to £25 when we extend it to under 16s by 14 November – a 150% rise.”
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