Help out there for struggling single parents – words Alexa Wang
Besides the emotional strains and stresses that come with being both mum and dad to their offspring, single parents often have financial problems, made worse by benefits cuts in recent years.
Caps introduced in 2015 impacted single parents particularly hard, for instance by lowering the children’s age at which struggling single parents would have to start searching for a job or risk losing welfare payments.
Ahead of the June 2016 Brexit vote it was widely speculated that welfare benefits would be slashed even further, with the greatest effects on poor working families, particularly those headed by a lone mum or dad. Though it’s too soon to gauge all of the effects of Brexit, there’s little doubt that single parents often have more than their share of money worries. But help is available for those who are struggling.
The employment picture may be looking up
The marginally better news is that single parents have seen the biggest rise in employment of any group of people, according to official figures. Granted, unemployment rates have been falling amongst all groups of people since December 2011. Moreover welfare reforms passed in 2008 have required more single parents to prove that they are looking for work in order to qualify for benefits. That in itself is very troublesome for many parents of young children. It’s arguable how much of an “incentive” versus punishment the reforms have been.
Even so, Gingerbread, a charity supporting single parents, said the rise in employment among lone mums and dads was a welcome sign. Few people want to live on benefits for the rest of their lives, but the UK still hasn’t reached the point where anyone who wants a job with a sustainable wage can find one. Millions of single parents – the full-time employed, the part-timers and the unemployed – are still struggling to clothe, feed and educate their offspring.
There’s more than one way to stretch a pound
If you’re a single mum or dad you may have become adept at coming up with creative ways to make the most of a limited income. But sometimes, even if you’re employed and have a fairly good job, the money just isn’t there when you have an emergency. You may have to borrow, and if you’re already struggling and have credit problems your choices are limited. But limited or not, you still have choices.
And it is important that you choose a lender as carefully as you would choose anything else you entrust with the well-being of your children. Every choice you make will affect them as well as you, and the last thing you want to do is make your financial problems worse. Unfortunately, too many people do just that, not out of lack of concern, but lack of knowledge. With a wealth of information just a few mouse clicks away, it is easy to comparative-shop for clothes, food, educational enhancements, or most other products and services for your children. Coming up with the money to pay for those things can be more difficult, since every business stresses its strengths and benefits, but few are as willing to list publicly their liabilities, and it is virtually unheard of for a business to list its competitors’ advantages.
The readies website offers clear, objective information about different loans and lenders. Beyond describing in detail both the pros and cons of different kinds of financing, the site provides online calculators with which you can obtain detailed, side-by-side information on the comparative costs, terms, and specifics of different forms of financing, from numerous different lenders. Furthermore, the site provides an outlet by which customers can give honest feedback as to what given lenders are like to work with and what level of customer service they provide. Armed with this level of information, you can make as educated a decision about financing as you can about the tangible products you buy.
If you’re a struggling single parent it can be hard to get to the shops to get the essentials for your little one. babygoss have a range of lists of the best products on the market, and where online you can buy them.
A network of support for single parents
Whether you are a single parent struggling with all the problems inherent in lone parenthood or part of a more traditional family looking for specific advice on a situation you’re facing, the Gov.UK web site is a resource, both for its wealth of information and as a portal to different agencies, programmes, and other organisations whose focus is upon family well-being. The child-maintenance/overview page on that site is the portal for information on financial support towards your child’s everyday living costs when you have separated from the other parent.
There are also charities that offer resources for single parents, such as singleparents.org.uk and the above mentioned Gingerbread, both of which offer information and support to help you better deal with the many challenges unique to lone parenthood, from dealing with the child maintenance system to advice on enduring the emotional roller-coaster that properly raising a child on your own so often becomes.
Being a single parent doesn’t mean you are alone, though at times it may feel that way. The emotional and financial challenges of being a lone mum or dad can sometimes seem overwhelming, but if you can alleviate some of the financial burden, you may find that you’re in a much better position to handle the emotional ups and downs.