Lone Parents In The Uk Essay, Research Paper
Lone parents constitute one of the poorest groups of people in Britain today.The aim of this presentation is to attempt to explain why I think this is, and what should be done about it and by whom.I will attempt to do this by initially looking at and trying to define poverty looking at some research already performed on the subject, and the dramatic changes and trends which have lead to lone parents.The most noticeable demographic studies and social trends in the last 20 to 30 years are the rise in one parent s families. The number of lone parents grew from just over a half a million at the beginning of the 1970s to nearly 1 million by the beginning of the 1980s. It was estimated to over 1.7 million in 1995 1. The situation seemed to have been created by societies acceptance to the high level of changes and trends in the breakdown of marriages, the separation of sex, and the changes in parents hood. Single motherhood seen as a statically rising proportion of the total. However, there is a difference in the way static portrayed single mothers, and these can be misleading. There are single mothers whom have been become single as a consequences of relationship breakdown and single mothers who has never had a partner. Women who have separated usually appear in the statistic as single. About 35% of all lone mothers are defined as single, but only about 18% of that have never lived with a partner.2 The statistics also shows that women who are poor and from a deprived backgrounds who are black or live in areas of high unemployment are more likely to become lone parents. Lone parenthood is not always a planned occurrence but once pregnant most lone mothers do not see this as a major problem. One parent s families seem to be becoming the accepted thing of the nineties another stage in the family cycle rather than an unaccepted change to family norm. Throughout the western, industrialize countries we can see a more diverse pattern of the family structure is developing. The tie with family support and obligation are becoming much more complex. However, throughout all the changes that have accrued in family patterns the most visible and the most difficult, seem to be in the breakdown of families. With the most complex been the problems of lone parents and poverty that are now seen as a social problem.Lone parents constitute one of the poorest groups in Britain today, this is due to such factors as high rate unemployment amongst lone parenthood, the majority tends to rely on income support. Which is believe by some to generate an increased level of public expenditure with the most visible been Social Security which has risen over the past decade and in 1995/6 stood at almost 10 billion 3. Poverty in lone parents is probably one of the biggest problems the government has yet to face, and it is on the increase. There are many different ways to define poverty. The two most commonly used by sociologists are absolute and relative poverty. These are two very opposing views; the idea of absolute is usually judged by the resources we require maintaining our health and basic everyday needs. We need enough resources to keep us in good health to be able provide for food, clothing and shelter for our family and ourselves. Absolute poverty is often measure to material deprivation. Prue Leith argues, Poverty is not about material things, but about having enough resources to survive, eating, should not be a treat, but a part of everyday living . 4 I would argue that poverty is not only due to a lack of material possession but it is also to where members of society are excluded from the lifestyle of the community in which they live. This can be supported by sociologist who states Poverty can be caused by cultural differences, including the cultural of poverty itself in a society that has a class barrier. Lone parents have a very high level risk of poverty in comparison to those families with two parents.Poverty tends to be the main cause of debt, and material hardship that the lone parent has to face it is also one of the reasons that lone parents are rejected by their society due to not been able to afford to have entertainment. Lone parents have to provide for their children just as married parents do, the need to protect their offspring from poverty is priority which often leads to them spending less on themselves. Some in society may argue that a lone parent makes choices, which consign them to poverty. however I would argue that society does not recognise that most lone parents did not choose to be single, but due to certain circumstances (breakdown of relationship) the choice was taken away from them. Been a lone parent s means brining the children up on your own. There is a problem of combining dual roles such as parent ,worker, and carer, and provider only one person to share in the problems that a family life brings e.g. (One income, one person to manage the home). If and when things go wrong you are on your own and have to cope. Changes in families and communities, which can leave the lone parents feeling, isolated. with a larger number of women in the work force there tend to be less help available from grandparents, and other family members to help and support the lone parents. Other factors which leads to poverty in the lone parents not having the help with child care upon returning to the work force. This can place a certain amount of stress on both the parents and the child. Good and affordable Childcare can help to lessen that stress.
In 1974 a report was published by ‘The Finer committee’, which argue that the main problem of lone parenthood was poverty and the main reason for that poverty was lone parents, mainly women who could not combine the dual role of parents and worker. However the access to state benefits was very low and this in turn kept them in poverty. Those who could work were stuck in very low paid jobs, and could not work long hours because they had children to care for and there was very little child care which was very expensive.Poverty rate has not change much since then and the risk of poverty for lone parents is higher now than it was then. when one looks at the picture that emerges upon examining the quality of life of the lone parents and their children, there is a very negative aspect of which the main one is poverty. However since 1980s there has been some important changes in policies, especially in employment. In 1988 Family credit replaced income support and was intended to offer additional financial support to low paid workers with children. In 1992 family credit was extended to those working 16 hours or more per week. A series of research have shown that this is a very important benefit to lone parents.The second major changes in policy is the introduction of the new deal for lone parents which is suppose to offer lone parents positive support to enable them to take up employment, a system which is intended to financially support one earner families in employment. active support and advice for those lone parents who wants to take up employment, more available access to child care and help in meeting the costs.Lone parents are the poorest social grouping due to a number of reasons:These include a deprived background brought about by family and social breakdowns. Living in areas of high unemployment does not help the situation nor do difficulties resulting from a lack of help with childcare when lone parents attempt to return to the workforce. Cultural differences also play their part through discrimination. Government policies are required, and society needs to play its part if these problems are to be addressed to stem the increase of lone parents in Britain today.Some are concerned that the new policy maybe the next step in enforcing the lone parents to seek work whether the job is low paid or unsuitable. Under the new deal you could go on a full-time training course which includes a period of work experience and leads to an approved qualification. However once those qualifications are gained will they be forced to take any job that is offered or will the choice of work be open to them. My opinion is that policy makers need to really think all issues and implications of this policy through thoroughly. What we have in this new policy is a benefits system that aims to financially support one earner families in employment.Active support for those who want to work and increased financial help for childcare. The New Deal will helps more parents – particularly women – back to work, the need for childcare is growing all the time. To meet the demand, the government is helping to pay for a huge increase in the number of places available through the National ChildcareStrategy and there are new childcare places for up to one million children. However once this childcare is offered how long will it last will there be an administrator to over see the workings of this policy or will it ends up the same way as the CSA. ( an excuse to penalise those who parents who would like to stay at home with their kids) New Deal will help make sure there are enough trained people with the right skills to fill the new childcare vacancies this creates.I feel that the policies should respond to the growing need to the changes of family pattern by focusing more on lone parents as a separate group. Lone Parents entering work may get the help they need to meet the cost of childcare but how will they be protected from the fear of been target by those in the political structure. Policy needs to be moved forward to eliminate lone parent policy and support families more.