A report said that many single parent families were struggling to maintain an adequate household income and that existing labour market conditions made it difficult for single parents to remove themselves from poverty through paid work. The report made a range of recommendations, including: for government to encourage flexible working opportunities across a greater range and level of jobs (including jobs across the public sector and contracted-out services); for greater job security; for measures to address low pay; and for work incentives to be maximized through the benefits system.
Source: Sumi Rabindrakumar, Paying the Price: The long road to recovery, Gingerbread
The Childcare Payments Bill was given a second reading. The Bill was designed to introduce tax relief on qualifying childcare costs, up to a maximum value of £2,000 per year for each child. The scheme would replace some existing tax and national insurance reliefs that had been previously provided for childcare.
Source: Childcare Payments Bill, HM Treasury, TSO | Debate 14 July 2014, columns 604-641, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
The government published its response to a consultation on the design and implementation of a new scheme for tax-free childcare, announced in the 2013 Budget.
Source: Tax-Free Childcare: The government's response to the consultation on childcare account provision, HM Treasury
A report said that, despite recent policy initiatives, many parents still cited childcare as a barrier to work, many children were not receiving quality early years education, and the options available to low-income families and those who worked evening, weekends, or unreliable hours were considerably narrow and often involved compromising on quality. Particular issues included: upfront costs (payment in advance and deposits); limited flexibility to change childcare arrangements; and payment schedules (with higher quality providers being more likely to require monthly payments and less likely to offer flexibility). The report considered the policy implications, and made a range of recommendations.
Source: The Practicalities Of Childcare: An overlooked part of the puzzle?, Citizens Advice
A think-tank report examined how the United Kingdom might develop a universal, high-quality, and affordable system of childcare and early years provision that would promote higher employment rates for parents, reduce early childhood inequalities, and enhance gender equality. Recommendations included: an extension of universal early years entitlement to 15 hours per week, 48 weeks per year, from the age of two; a framework of affordable childcare for working families, funded through reforms to existing tax credits and reliefs; improvements to the quality of childcare and early learning, and a highly qualified early years profession; and reforms to parental leave entitlements. The report also called for a greater focus on public funding of provision, rather than on cash transactions between the state and families.
Source: Dalia Ben-Galim, with Nick Pearce and Spencer Thompson, No More Baby Steps: A strategy for revolutionising childcare, Institute for Public Policy Research
A report examined the role of further education in relation to single parent employment, and the impact of qualification levels on pay, job security, and duration of unemployment. The report called for increased government investment in training for single parents, and for the government to fund their training to level 3 qualifications (equivalent to A level).
Source: Making the Grade: How government investment in further education can benefit single parents and the state, Gingerbread
A paper examined the extent to which motherhood affected women's career accomplishments and wages in Italy and the UK. It said that motherhood had no adverse effects on mothers' wage progressions or career paths in Italy, and that job segregation (the concentration of mothers in less valued sectors and lower paid occupations) explained most of the motherhood wage gap in the UK. It said that findings suggested that the timing of motherhood and job continuity had a significant effect on the female wage profile, which warranted policy attention since it had a potential impact on wage levels and, in the longer term, on pensions.
Source: Eliane El Badaoui and Eleonora Matteazzi, To Be a Mother, or Not to Be? Career and wage ladder in Italy and the UK, Working paper 2014-30, Economix
A report examined the impacts of the United Kingdom Government's welfare reforms on lone parents moving into work, based on research in Glasgow, a city in Scotland.
Source: Helen Graham and Ronald McQuaid, Exploring the Impacts of the UK Government's Welfare Reforms on Lone Parents Moving into Work, Employment Research Institute/Edinburgh Napier University/University of Stirling
An article examined women's employment trajectories during and after lone motherhood in Britain and west Germany. Typical trajectories were spread unevenly. Overall there was higher labour market attachment in west Germany and a higher prevalence of volatile employment trajectories in Britain.
Source: Hannah Zagel, 'Are all single mothers the same? Evidence from British and west German women's employment trajectories', European Sociological Review, Volume 30 Number 1
A think-tank report examined the factors behind maternal employment in the United Kingdom, particularly the role of childcare. It said that many mothers wanted to work or increase their working hours, but childcare, or the lack of flexibility in the work that was available, formed significant barriers. It said that there was a need for: more affordable childcare for children under the age of two, in particular to enable low-skilled parents and lone parents to enter, or re-enter, employment; the expansion of affordable childcare for three and four year olds, and for families where mothers were already in work, to enable increased working hours; and a supply-funded system to support levels of provision and reduce costs to around 10 per cent of disposable income.
Source: Spencer Thompson and Dalia Ben-Galim, Childmind the Gap: Reforming childcare to support mothers into work, Institute for Public Policy Research
A think-tank report examined levels of employment among lone parents in the United Kingdom and considered policy options. Recommendations included: that the government should pilot offering more intensive training support to lone parents when their youngest child reached the age of 3, with additional funding for Jobcentres to provide specialist advice and training; and for some lone parents in a range of circumstances to be paid a proportion of the benefits savings achieved by them starting paid work or achieving higher levels of pay.
Source: Matthew Tinsley, Parenting Alone: Work and welfare in single parent households, Policy Exchange