HR Magazine – Lone parent employment rate hits lowest level in six years

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The employment rate for lone parents in the UK fell to 66.4% between April and June 2022, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The rate marks the lowest point for single parents in employment since January to March 2016 and equates to 617,000 parents without paid employment, down from 530,000 before the pandemic.

The number of lone parents with dependent children – (those under 16 or between 16 and 18 and in full-time education) fell by 2.1% from April to June 2022 compared to the same period in 2021 .


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Victoria Benson, chief executive of the single-parent family charity Gingerbread, said the pandemic has made things worse for parents.

Talk to HOUR magazine, she said: ‘The ONS data reflects our recent research and what we are hearing from parents. This rise in unemployment began during the pandemic, when single parents were more likely to be furloughed and many hours or jobs lost.

“This, coupled with the need to homeschool their children and later take periods of self-isolation, has meant many have been forced out of the workforce.”

The total number of single parents in employment decreased by 4% to 1.21 million compared to April-June 2021.

Benson added that parents need more support in terms of flexible working to allow them to balance work and family responsibilities.

She said: ‘Single parents have much less practical and financial flexibility than married parents and to work they need both suitable work (which allows them to juggle family and work responsibilities) and affordable and flexible child care. However, many have neither as there is a shortage of suitable jobs and childcare.

“As a result, we often see single parents in jobs they are overqualified for – because they need the flexibility and this is more likely to be offered in lower paid roles. We often hear that parents can’t take jobs because the child care system isn’t working for them.

“It’s devastating to see that the employment rate has dropped and single parents are being pushed out of the job market. This government needs to have a better understanding of the lives of single parents and provide flexible funding for child care for those who are single parents. Employers need to offer more support and flexibility to single parents to ensure they can stay at work.

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