Lone parent families

Lone parent families living on low income were the main beneficiaries of Healthier, Wealthier Children, an NHS partnership project set up in 2010 to tackle child poverty by providing young families access to money advice services across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Recognising that lone parents were more likely to experience poverty compared to other households, we held some initial conversations with One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS). From 2013 onwards, alliances and networks were created with NHS, local authority and housing partners, as well as academic links with Edinburgh Napier University, to explore the impacts of the UK government’s welfare changes on lone parents with young children.

Some of the important outputs to emerge from this work have been:

  • A wide-ranging literature review and a detailed research report that captured the views of lone parents moving into work as part of these changes.  
  • GCPH briefing paper that summarised the findings from the literature review and research report.
  • A partnership seminar event, blogs commenting on the research and challenging media perception of lone parents and a powerful short film that captures the voice of one of the parents.
  • An evaluation of the Glasgow Lone Parent Development Project which showed that the project contributed to increased uptake of a school clothing grant, improved access to the Scottish Welfare Fund and ensuring the lone parent voice influenced work ranging from Universal Credit, Gender Based Violence and Lifelong Learning. 
  • A social media campaign launched by OPFS to tackle stigma by celebrating the diversity, and positive aspects of being a single parenthood (#ProudSingleParents campaign)

Some of the outputs and established networks supported NHS Health Scotland to publish two national reports in 2016. The first lone parent report looked at work, income and child health and the second report focused on health, employment and social security.

In Glasgow, four out of ten families with children are lone parent families. This is the highest local authority rate in Scotland, with this figure expected to rise over the next two decades. Furthermore, child poverty rates across Scotland are expected to increase over the coming years.

The public health evidence gathered over the last 7 years captures the range of inequalities facing many lone parents and possible responses to address them. Strengthening responses will be required as a welfare reform report in 2018 estimated that tax and welfare reforms over this decade will lead to lone parent families facing large drops in their household income. An average of £5,250 per year which is equivalent to around 19% of their net income. Those in the bottom fifth of the income distribution are predicted to lose 25% of their income.

Related topic: Money and work