Charities and MPs condemning the decision to give less financial support to young parents because of their age have accused the UK government of “defending the indefensible”.
Their criticism comes after the government dismissed concerns raised in a letter with more than 100 signatories representing charities, unions and academics and 60 multi-party MPs that young parents and their children, especially in single-parent families, were plunged into poverty because of inequality based on age.
Previously, young parents received the same rate of benefits as those over 25, but this changed with universal credit, so they now receive a lower rate.
A report released last month by the Child Poverty Action Group, which was among the organizations signing the letter, estimated that single parents are worse off by £ 65 per month, while couples of parents are worse off at £ 100 per month.
Research also found that paying young parents at the adult rate would lift 10,000 children out of poverty.
Charity One Parent Families Scotland is leading a campaign to reverse politics. He says the impact on young single-parent families is
“Devastating”, plunging many families they work with “in crisis and needing to turn to food banks”.
A letter from UK Minister for Welfare Will Quince in response to the campaign said: “The government considers that, where possible, it is in the best interests of children to live in working households.
“The lower rates for younger claimants under 25 reflect the fact that they are more likely to live in someone else’s household and have lower income expectations.
‘This is meant to keep the incentive for young people to find work which has been helped by the Department for Work and Pensions’ £ 2 billion Kickstart program – already creating thousands of high quality jobs for young people .
“Universal Credit pays up to 85% of child care expenses, compared to 70% for inherited benefits, and can be claimed up to a month before starting a job.”
One Parent Families Scotland Managing Director Satwat Rehman said: “The UK government’s response to serious concerns from charities supporting women, children and families, as well as people trapped in poverty in the UK, is simply not sufficient.
“The government says that those under 25 are more likely to live in someone else’s household, but that frightfully overlooks the reality of life for young parents.
“About two-thirds of those under 25 who themselves benefit from housing allowance – and therefore live independently – are parents with young children, and nearly three-quarters of young people benefit from housing allowance are female precisely because young women are more likely to have dependent children. . In our many years of supporting young parents, the vast majority of whom were young women, we could count on one hand the number of those who lived with their parents.
“The decision to start paying all young people a lower benefit rate, whether or not they have children, goes against the evidence that young families have the same costs as any other family.
“We urge the government not to defend the indefensible, but to look at the facts.”
SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson David Linden MP said: “It is clear that the young parent penalty continues to impact thousands of single parents across Scotland.
“Support is urgently needed for young single-parent families who suffer from contradictory and confused rules from the Directorate of Work and Pensions. The UK government must do the right thing and end the young parent penalty. ”