Tackling child poverty priority families overview

An overview of evidence on the six priority family types identified as being at higher risk of child poverty. Slide deck can be found in the supporting documents.

Lone parent families

Key demographics

Make up 19% of all families, and 92% are headed by women. Successful interventions are generally those geared positively towards gender equality.

9% children are born into single parent households, and a further 11% experience parental separation in first five years.

46% of children in lone parent households in relative poverty also have a disabled person at home.

Income from employment

Limited options for increasing income from employment. The majority of lone parents are in paid employment already, but still in poverty.

Lone parents tend to work fewer hours and have a lower hourly wage, reflecting the gender pay gap and also the greater weight placed on women to undertake unpaid work (incl. childcare).

More likely to have low or no qualifications, and those with degrees more likely to work in low or medium skilled occupations.

Costs of living

Least wealthy household type in Scotland, probably translating into less disposable income.

Particularly vulnerable to cost of living crisis and suffering the worst impacts.

Many lone parents (70%)  have no or low (under £250) savings and are more likely to be in debt or arrears.

Least likely to be able to pay unexpected bills of £300.

More likely to cut back on essentials.

Income from social security

More likely than other priority groups to have applied for Universal Credit or crisis grant to help with the cost of living.

High anxiety and uncertainty when looking to claim benefits.

Disproportionately impacted by cuts, conditionality, freezes and benefits caps and limits, particularly those who also have a disabled adult or child in the household, partly because of a higher reliance on benefits.

What works

Addressing in-work poverty through flexible and secure contracts while driving the gender equality agenda.

Affordable and flexible childcare that allows to juggle paid work with sole responsibility for the family.

Supporting needs at different life stages. Childcare needs and employment aspirations for lone parents will change over time.

Child maintenance. Increasing parents providing child maintenance supports more mothers out of poverty than draws fathers into poverty.


Email: social-justice-analysis@gov.scot
Twitter: @EqualityPoverty
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