Single Parents and Debt: A Hidden Problem

Wednesday 18 July, 2018 Families

Many people live with the trauma of money worries for years before beginning to seek help or exploring their options. Such concerns are especially acute for families who, naturally enough, struggle with higher household costs associated with running a family home. The reduction in benefits resulting from welfare reform has compounded the problem further for millions of families. One of the less obvious manifestations of this phenomenon is the effect higher living costs has on single parent families. With the rise in living costs increasingly accompanied by pay freezes, disposable income for families is being squeezed like never before.

Single parents are particularly vulnerable in this regard, as they have to manage household costs with only one source of income, often relying on benefits. The effect of welfare reduction on single parents is seen in figures released by Stepchange in 2014. According to the Guardian, more than 60,000 single parents sought the assistance of the charity throughout that year, a whopping 105% increase on 2012’s figures. More worryingly, the newspaper reveals that single parents were much more likely to seek debt advice than other groups in society. Childcare costs (prohibitive in any case) is another obvious contributory factor to the problem. The Guardian quotes Stepchange chief executive Mike O’Connor as stating: “Single parents face a unique set of vulnerabilities and are disproportionally represented among our clients.”

This article by The Guardian also reveals that single parents were almost twice as likely to work on low incomes as other employees. While the reasons for such hardship are largely self-explanatory, the impact of such issues is also easy to understand. Single parents have long been one of the most disadvantaged groups in society and the myriad of welfare changes in recent years has only served to make their life more difficult.

The fall in benefit income has hit families hard throughout the UK. Parents are struggling with money worries in greater numbers, and it’s easy to see how the problem is magnified for families with just one provider. Despite benefits being gradually eroded in recent years, essential household bills still need to be covered. Rent/mortgage, utilities, council tax, water rates, and other vital expenditure still needs to be paid. Childcare can also be an extremely costly burden for single parents. And that’s before discretionary expenditure such as leisure activities is even taken into consideration.

As with any debt issue, the key is to seek advice and help as soon as possible. No matter how severe the problem, or how bleak the situation might seem, help is always at hand. Just like many other disadvantaged groups in society, single parents have enough to worry about without the added stress debt causes. With so many debt solutions available, there really is no need for any family to struggle unnecessarily with money worries any longer.