Lone parents play a vital role in Scottish society as parents,
carers and contributors to their local community and economy.
- It is estimated that there are over
163,000 lone parents with 295,000 children in Scotland.
- Nine out of ten lone parents are women.
- The median age for a lone parent is 36; only 2% of lone mothers
- 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 childcare.
- 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
Our Potential - the Scottish Government's framework to tackle
income inequality and disadvantage.
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
Years Framework - which highlights the importance of investment
in early years and the need to coordinate all agencies
To help support lone parents towards and into employment, good
practice suggests the need to:
- Tailor services to individual family circumstances.
- Spend time building up confidence and dealing with personal
- 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