Single parents face “sharply declining living standards”

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Single parents face tougher times ahead as a result of the Summer Budget, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). Instead, it will favour families with two parents working full time, as well as pensioners and employees without children. This insight into the Budget represents the first major in-depth study into individuals’ ability to attain a “decent standard of living” since the chancellor’s first red-case announcement since the Conservatives independently ascended to power.

Joining single parents on the wrong end of the stick are families with more than two children, which the JRF says will face a stagnation or even a drop in living standards even if they work full-time. Low-income families with only one person in full-time employment are also at risk. What’s more, those out of work will see a “sharply growing gap between their income and the amount they need for a basic living standard”.

JRF’s Minimum Income Standard (MIS) was brought into play in order to track how living standards of low-income households will evolve in the five years to 2020; this takes into account the public perception of what is necessary for the “minimum socially acceptable” standard of life.

The organisation explained that while most households with two parents in full-time employment on the National Living Wage (£9 per hour by 2020) will be better off than they are on the National Minimum Wage now, just 6% of families with a low income will actually have this working pattern.

“The Summer Budget has transformed the relationship between pay, benefits and work incentives,” said Julia Unwin, chief executive of the JRF. “The National Living Wage is a game-changer for some on low incomes as the new, higher rate will make work pay for more people.”

She continued: “But the wage rise comes hand-in-hand with changes to in and out-of-work benefits. Families will only be able to make ends meet if they have two parents in full-time work, but those who are able to find extra work will face a difficult juggling act as they try and make longer hours fit around family life. Lone parents, even those working full time, and people who are searching for work face a decade of sharply declining living standards.”