The Government must “do more” to ensure that social security and child maintenance systems support broken homes, a major new report has said.
The words form part of the Social Security Advisory Committee’s (SSAC) new report into the welfare of separated parents and children.
According to the latest statistics, 2.5 million separated families are living in Britain, but the economic outcomes of each vary from home to home.
While some families may find relief, separation carries an “increased risk of negative outcomes” and “poorer life chances” for both parents and children, the SSAC said.
The report principally looks into the experience of non-primary carers – parents who are not the main carer for a child but want to continue in a parenting role.
On this point, the research found that those who need to claim social security can “struggle to share care because the system assumes there is one main carer and so only one parent can be entitled to child-related benefits”.
This likely results in the other parent only receiving single adult benefits which “do not factor in the inevitable costs of caring for children even if parents are sharing care”, the report says.
In fact, the report finds that separated parents without the primary responsibility of a child have a poverty rate of 30 per cent compared to 21 per cent of the general working-age population.
Commenting on the research, Liz Sayce, the Committee’s interim chair, said: “Social security needs to enable children, and families, to thrive whether or not parents have separated. We urge the government to develop a clear strategy for supporting separated parents in the social security system. While there is a general policy focus on children’s welfare, the government does not appear to be considering separated parents and their children’s welfare as a joined-up issue.
“We recognise that there are no easy policy solutions. Nevertheless, we believe that improvements are needed to ensure separated parents, both those with main and without main responsibility of care, are not unduly suffering. This is vital to ensure no negative impact on the welfare of their children.”
Click here to access the report.
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