Singled out – lone mothers hammered by welfare changes

TomNew research from the Fawcett society and the Institute of Fiscal Studies has found that single mothers are, on average, among the biggest losers from the Government’s tax and benefit changes.

Single mothers, the report says, can expect to lose 8.5% of their annual net income by 2015, the equivalent of losing a month’s pay each year. Lone fathers are not spared either, the shake-up of the welfare system means they could lose as much as 7.5% of their household income.

The research, which analysed the impact of the Government’s tax and benefit changes by gender and household, found that single women were hardest hit of all. Commenting on the findings, the Acting Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, Anna Bird, said “The results are clear: women are bearing the brunt of cuts.”

The analysis looked at the consequences of all tax and benefit changes to be introduced from 2010/11 to 2014/15 based on the June 2010 emergency budget, the October 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review and the March 2011 Budget.

The package of welfare reforms includes a change to the method by which benefits are up-rated and means the payments will reduce in value relative to inflation; the impact being compounded year on year. The report suggests that this will have a particular impact on lone parents, as will reductions in housing benefits, restrictions to the SureStart Maternity Grant, the three year freeze to child benefits and the 10% cut in the childcare element of working tax credits.

Specific analysis of the child benefit freeze and the changes to the SureStart Maternity Grants clearly show that lone parents fare worst compared to other households, and single mothers take a hammering in particular.

Last year the Fawcett Society launched legal proceedings calling for a judicial review of the Emergency Budget, claiming that the Government had failed to consider the impact their proposals would have on gender equality.

The Society say they have “closely monitored the impact of these changes [to tax and benefits] and has long been raising concerns that many of the reforms, both individually and cumulatively, look set to significantly increase both economic and wider inequality between women and men.”

The Government insists they take their obligations to equality “very seriously” and the welfare changes are “tough but fair.”

Anna Bird, Acting Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said “Some of the least well off in our society are being forced to act as shock absorbers for the cuts, with women – in particular single mothers – faring worse.”

You can view the ‘Single mothers:Single out’ report here.

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