Lone parents play a vital role in Scottish society as
parents, carers and contributors to their local community and
It is estimated that there are over
163,000 lone parents with 295,000 children in
Nine out of ten lone parents are women.
The median age for a lone parent is 36; only 2% of lone
mothers are teenagers.
59% of lone parents are in work.
Lone parent families make up 52% of families living in the
poorest 10% of areas in Scotland. In Scotland's least deprived
areas they make up 9%.
Between 2010 and 2035, the number of households in
Scotland containing one adult with children is projected to rise by
51% from 166,000 to 250,000.
Each lone parent faces different challenges depending on
their own circumstances but in the main they often share the same
constraint of being the "breadwinner" and carer for their children.
In moving towards and into employment, lone parents often encounter
a number of barriers:
- Availability, flexibility and cost of
- Low self confidence.
- Isolation and lack of social networks.
- Low skills and education levels.
- Impact of the benefits trap - particularly if moving into
low paid and temporary employment.
Policies and Interventions
Policy respects that fact that some parents will choose to
stay at home and look after their children during their vital
childhood years. This is a positive choice and one in which lone
parents should be supported. However, it is also important that
lone parents plan and prepare for future employment - particularly
given the change in UK policies affecting lone parents. For example
from early 2012 out of work lone parents whose youngest child is 5
years old are required to move to Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). One Parent Families Scotland has produced a
series of factsheets with up to date information
relating to lone parent employment, education, welfare, childcare,
housing and wider supports and eligibility.
At the Scotland level, meeting the needs of women and increasing
the available level of funded early learning and childcare
provision are key actions within Working for Growth. Supporting
lone parents towards and into sustained employment will also
contribute to the following poverty and child poverty
- Achieving Our Potential - the
Scottish Government's framework to tackle income inequality and
- Child Poverty Strategy - which
aims to reduce the levels of child poverty by reducing income
poverty and material deprivation; and improve children's wellbeing
and life chances with the ultimate aim of being to break
inter-generational cycles of poverty, inequality and
- Early Years Framework - which
highlights the importance of investment in early years and the need
to coordinate all agencies involved.
To help support lone parents towards and into employment,
good practice suggests the need to:
- Tailor services to individual family
- Spend time building up confidence and dealing with
- Enable access to good quality, flexible and affordable
- Work with wider services to provide support around
welfare and benefits entitlements, back-to-work financial
calculations, housing and childcare provision.
- Encourage employers to adopt more family friendly working
practices - e.g. term time contracts, partnerships with childcare
providers, maximising use of technology to enable remote