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Gingerbread Make It Work Campaign: Exclusive Interview

Make it Work Gingerbread campaign

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Gingerbread is a single parent family charity which was set up back in 1970 by Tessa Fothergill; at the time she was struggling newly single parent after her marriage broke down. The Sunday Times ran a feature on her story after which many single parents contacted her; and Gingerbread was born.

We interviewed Lucy Abell, Head of Communications at Gingerbread, to ask her about Gingerbread’s Make It Work campaign. There are 2 million single parents in the UK, 59% are currently working and the rest are facing challenges with issues such as unaffordable and unavailable childcare, lack of training and support and few flexible positions available.

gingerbread make it work

Q. What do you feel the biggest challenges are that parents face when trying to get back into work?

A. We asked single parents what the biggest barriers to work for them were, and they said:

o A lack of flexible jobs

o Expensive childcare

o A shortage of jobs that paid enough to make working financially worthwhile.

Many parents will recognise these barriers, but single parents often have to overcome them on their own.

Single parents want to work and to provide for their families, but they need the government’s help to overcome these obstacles they face.

Our experience of working with big employers like Marks and Spencer shows us that when it works, both employers and employees benefit. Employers get a loyal, motivated workforce and employees get the flexibility they need to manage their home and work lives.

By getting it right for single parents, we can get it right for all parents.

Q. How is Gingerbread trying to help parents that have been on benefits for a long time get back into work?

A. We are running a campaign called Make it Work for single parents. We’re calling on the government to take action and help single parents and their families escape unemployment and working poverty.

While the majority of single parents (59%) are in work, more than 1 million children are growing up in workless single parent families. For those who do find work, a job isn’t a guaranteed route out of poverty – in fact the latest figures show that one in three children whose single parent works part-time is living in poverty.

Single parents want to work and we need the government to make a commitment to break down the barriers that are holding single parents back from the workplace and from earning a decent wage.

As well as our campaigning work, we run back to work schemes and confidence boosting courses for single parents in England and Wales which are free of charge to attend. Visit our website for more information.

3. Although some parents feel that they may be financially better off while receiving benefits, are Gingerbread trying to promote the wellbeing aspect of being in work to overcome an element of this? 

It’s not just that some single parents feel that they might be better off on out of work benefits than working, many are. By the time childcare costs as well as transport have been taken into consideration, many single parents find it very hard to afford to go to work. Single parents overwhelmingly want to work, but sometimes they simply cannot make it pay.

In addition to campaigning for the government to implement welfare and childcare reforms that make work pay we offer online advice and a Freephone helpline to enable single parents to work out the impact that changing jobs or going back to work will have on their finances.

Single parents don’t need us to tell them how working could benefit them and their families, they need practical support to overcome the barriers to work that they face.

single parents make it work campaign

Q. Why did Gingerbread decide to create the Make it Work campaign to help parents get into work?

A. One in four families with dependent children in Britain is a single parent family – so this is a vitally important issue.

We regularly hear from our members and those who call our helpline that balancing work with being single parents is one of the biggest issues they face.

Not only does single parent employment lag far behind employment rates of mothers in couple families in the UK (59% compared with 71%), we have also found that a quarter of single parents who do find a job, become unemployed again within 12 months – this means they aren’t finding stable jobs that offer real progression.

Single parents want to work and to provide for their families, but they need the government’s help to overcome these barriers.

By getting it right for single parents, we can get it right for all parents.

Q. Do you feel the new Universal Credit will actually help working parents, or do you feel that it could place more families in poverty? What more could the government be doing to support working parents and their families?

A. The government’s own impact assessment for universal credit shows that 900,000 single parents will be worse off under universal credit, compared with 700,000 who will be better off.

Research commissioned by Gingerbread has shown that universal credit will fail to provide all working single parent families with a route out of poverty, and act as a disincentive to work longer hours for some.

We want the government to:

• Increase childcare support for all working single parents

• Support single parents to undertake training that will boost their employability and into more stable jobs

• Encourage employers to more readily embrace flexible and part-time working

• Make a commitment to tackling single parent employment, by setting target of 250,000 more single parents in work by 2020




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