Event in the House of Commons highlights challenges they face
Rupa Huq with Jack Monroe
Rupa Huq recently hosted a Single Parents’ Day celebration in the House of Commons where she was joined by ‘bootstrap’ chef Jack Monroe, charities and other politicians.
Restarting the annual celebration of Single Parent’s Day on 21 March after a pandemic break, the Ealing Central and Acton compered a reception held in conjunction with Gingerbread, the UK's leading single-parent charity and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Single Parent Families.
She told attendees that she believed that single parents are caught in a pincer of rapidly rising living costs, cuts to benefits and are urgently in need of targeted government support.
Her speech highlighted how the country is now facing what she described as a perfect storm as the cost-of-living crisis intersects with war at a time when many households are still trying to rebuild after Covid, and that single parent households are often the worst hit.
She quoted statistics that aimed to puncture some of the myths and stereotypes around single parents: despite misconceptions that most single parents are teenagers, less than 1% are, and the average age of a single parent is 39 years old.
Rupa Huq addresses the meeting in the House of Commons
TV chef and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe, spoke about the Government’s £20-a-week Universal Credit cut and its consequential impact on single-parent families declaring, "You can't make the money in your purse go any further than it actually does."
It was her second visit to Parliament in as many weeks having very recently addressed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Select Committee. She also said that the Universal Credit system effectively puts families into debt through the current 5-week delay for new applicants, putting households in arrears for two sets of monthly rent payments and utility bills.
Other Guests included representatives of single parent groups, such as Dad’s house of Kensington and Gingerbread trustees along with donors, staff and MPs from across the political divide including the APPG’s Vice Chair, Rosie Duffield MP, Gingerbread's CEO Victoria Benson, Shadow Minister Sarah Jones MP and Employment Minister Mims Davies MP.
The minister described single parents as the ‘superheroes of our society’, and set out government initiatives she said aimed to assist single parent households.
Gingerbread spokesperson and single parent Carly Newman talked of how despite holding a Masters and Batchelors degree and holding down a job with a national organisation on a decent regular salary the punitive cost of childcare prohibits her from doing the best for her son.
Victoria Benson, Chief Executive of Gingerbread - the charity for single-parent families said, “People come to be single parents for lots of reasons - some because of bereavement, some because of domestic abuse or relationship breakdown, others have decided to ‘go it alone’ from the start. Single parents are resourceful and resilient but they have a breaking point and the cost-of-living crisis is pushing many beyond it.
“I’ve heard heart-breaking stories of single parents not eating so they can afford food for their children, families living in single rooms, as that’s all they can afford to heat, and parents at breaking point because of the mental load they carry. Children shouldn’t be forced into poverty just because of the shape of their family, parents shouldn’t experience depression because they can’t see a way out of the desperate financial situation they’re in."
Rupa Huq concluded, “Single-parent families are some of the most hardworking individuals in our society, but they are all too often overlooked when it comes to employment opportunities, childcare, and affordable housing. The minister will have heard loud and clear how urgent the need for genuine support for single-parent households, particularly in these times of a cost-of-living crisis, really is.”
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April 7, 2022