Single Parents With Babies And Toddlers Thrown Into Crisis Under Benefit Cap

For single parents with very young children it is much harder to find the precious job they need to escape the cap. Our analysis of the government’s Jobmatch vacancies this week shows only seven per cent of advertised jobs in Birmingham were part-time. This includes jobs that were under the sixteen hours required to escape the benefit cap and included evening and weekend jobs that are out of the question for single parents with a young child. If parents do manage to find a job, then they still face the challenge of lining up the right childcare and paying eye-watering upfront costs.

The benefit cap also goes against wider rules where parents of young children are not required to seek work until their child start school to take account of their caring responsibilities. Although some single parents do find work when their children are under five, these are mostly parents who have wider family support. Many single parents with pre-school aged children have used this time to improve their skills setting them up for careers that fit with family life. But now even single parents with babies will have to not only search for a suitable job, but find it and fast, or risk losing their home.

Even though single parents with pre-school children are those most affected by the cap, and the government has recognised that they are more likely to struggle to move into work, the government has no set plans to give these parents the into-work support they will urgently need.

In its rush to rollout a reform that makes ministers look tough on benefits, the government has overridden its existing policy, pitching these families into crisis. Specialist, ongoing support to help single parents affected by the cap find work must urgently be put in place.

We have a new Prime Minister who has pledged to help ‘just managing’ families – but families hit by the cap won’t be managing at all. The Prime Minister and her new Cabinet must think long and hard about the impact of the cap on those children whose single parent can’t find work. For whom this winter may bring cold, damp homes, scarce food on the table and bailiffs at the door.

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