Report outlines why Universal Credit is ‘not working’ for single parents

Date: 27th June 2018
Category: Social security

Gingerbread has published a report, based on interviews with single parents who are currently on Universal Credit, which highlights difficulties that these families can face when accessing the Universal Credit system.

The report emphasises that over 90% of single parents will be eligible for Universal Credit by the time it's rolled out and it is therefore essential that the system works for these families. Families have said that the most damaging effects of Universal Credit is the instability it causes and that debt, housing insecurity and job uncertainty is what many families experience after moving into the system.

Universal Credit was established in order to simplify social security into a single payment. However, the report highlights that this key principle of having a system that was easy to use did not apply to most of the single parents whose views contributed to the report.

Gingerbread therefore makes the following recommendations to help the Government achieve its objectives:

Making work pay

  • Jobcentres to support parents with the upfront costs of childcare through an Upfront guarantee paid directly to the provider by using the Flexible Support Fund;
  • Allowing single parents who would need to move onto UC as a result of entering temporary work to remain on legacy benefits when a transfer would leave them worse off;
  • Reverse cuts to the work allowances under UC - without this, working single parents lose £800 on average and some over £2,000 a year.
  • Personalised support
  • Suspend new job-seeking requirements for parents of three and four year olds, until affordable and good quality childcare and flexible work is available locally;
  • Ensure entitlements are clear and single parents' needs are recognised in claimant commitments, for example that single parents can access training for up to a year.

A simplified system

  • Supporting families to manage financially through further improving advance payments, better access to fortnightly payments and direct payments to landlords;
  • Provide mechanism to pay registered childcare providers directly (similar to tax-free childcare) reducing administrative burden.
  • Read the full report here.