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End Child Poverty coalition members in Scotland have welcomed the publication of the Stage One report from the Social Security Committee on the Scottish Government’s Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill which sets out clear markers for strengthening and improving the proposed legislation.
A spokesperson for the ECP members in Scotland supported the proposed introduction of interim targets as a useful way of measuring progress towards the 2030 targets and retaining focus on increasing income for families living in poverty.
“Children, young people and their families right across Scotland face a range of different difficulties and challenges on a daily basis. While the risk of being in poverty is greater for some families than others- such as single parent families or families affected by disability – what unites them is that they face these challenges living on a very low income in their day to day lives.
We welcome the Committee’s report and believe the recommendations will strengthen the existing Bill.
We are especially pleased that the Committee listened to our evidence and our suggested policy areas to focus and strengthen the Scottish Government’s Delivery Plans have been recommended by the Committee for inclusion within the Bill.”
As part of its evidence to the Committee, End Child Poverty members called for interim targets, greater detail setting out areas to be covered in the Delivery Plans, the need for a measurement framework to be included in the Bill, and the need for an Independent Scrutiny body.
ECP members argued the independent body could perform the scrutiny role previously fulfilled by the Child Poverty and Social Mobility Commission at UK level and believe that this role could be fulfilled by the Scottish Government’s proposed Poverty and Inequality Commission.
The spokesperson added:
“Expert scrutiny and oversight is essential in ensuring the Scottish Government and all public bodies will stay on track and make progress in meeting the income targets. The Committee’s support for the establishment of a Commission on a statutory footing with a scrutiny duty is particularly welcome.
However, we would still like to ensure local authorities and health boards have a strategic, forward-looking duty to ensure planning for future actions, and that retrospective reporting is included in the Bill.
We are encouraged by the progress that has already been made and look forward to working with MSPs and the government at Stage Two to bring forward amendments to improve and enhance the Bill.”
For more information, please contact Carla McCormack or by email or telephone 0141 353 0440.
1) End Child Poverty members include Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, The Poverty Alliance, Barnardo’s Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Children 1st, and Children in Scotland.
2) The End Child Poverty Coalition in Scotland submitted written evidence to the Social Security Committee’s call for evidence: http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Social_Security/Inquiries/End_Child_Poverty.pdf
OPFS strongly supports John Finnie MSP proposal to introduce equal protection for children from assault
John Finnie MSP has introduced a Bill and consultation to the Scottish Parliament to give children equal protection from assault by prohibiting the physical punishment of children.
Satwat Rehman , Director of One Parent Families Scotland said in response that OPFS along with many of Scotland’s children and family charities supports the move to give children the same legal protection as adults:
“Children deserve as much respect as anyone else, so just as it unacceptable to hit another adult so it should be unacceptable to smack a child. An end to the physical disciplining of children should be shaped by a children’s rights perspective therefore I welcome the consultation initiated by John Finnie MSP and his proposed bill. OPFS will be encouraging single parents to get involved in the consultation.
Removing the defence of “‘justifiable assault’ from Scottish law and thus giving children equal protection under the law on assault is the only just, moral and safe way to clarify the law. There already exists adequate means to prevent unwarranted or unhelpful prosecutions and this would eliminate the current confusion over what is acceptable and provide a clear basis for child protection.”
Show your support on social media using the #equalprotection hashtag.
One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) is looking for an Advice and Information Manager for the effective management and development, monitoring and evaluation of OPFS’ national information and advice service including the effective running of a telephone helpline, web-based information service, production of factsheets and information packs for parents and professionals and training for practitioners on issues affecting single parents e.g. welfare benefits and child maintenance. The Advice and Information Manager will maintain an up-to-date record of the experiences of single parents, analyse these to identify trends and patterns to inform OPFS’ policy and influencing work. S/he will be responsible for the relevant staff and budgets; for representing the work of OPFS to external agencies and for developing new areas of work and funding for these in conjunction with the Director and relevant agencies. Please see the job description for more details.
Advice and Information Manager (35 hours)
Closing Date: The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017. Interviews will be held on Thursday 25th May, 2017.
Post: Advice and Information Manager
Hours: 35 hours per week
Salary: £32,360-39-552 per annum
Location: OPFS Edinburgh or Glasgow Office with regular travel between the offices.
Reports to: Head of Strategy and Policy, and responsible to the Director and Board of Directors.
Application forms available below:
If you have any difficulties with the downloads telephone: 0131 556 3899
Completed applications should be returned to Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to One Parent Families Scotland, 13 Gayfield Square, Edinburgh EH1 3NX by the closing date (12:00 pm, Tuesday, May 16th, 2017). Interviews will be on Thursday, May 25th, 2017.
OPFS aims to be a family friendly and equal opportunities employer.
OPFS is pleased to be part of a range of organisations behind the Dundee Employability Pipeline, having secured a £1.3 million contract with the local authority in January. The pipeline is being delivered by The Wise Group along with other organisations including , ENABLE Scotland and ProjectScotland.
The aim of the project, launched on May 4, is to provide a programme of support for people not in paid work and help them find sustainable employment.
Read more on the Evening Telegraph website.
Scotland’s Minister for Social Security, Jeane Freeman MSP spoke at the launch of One Parent Families Scotland report on the Benefit Conditionality Regime at their Inaugural Single Parent Assembly.
One of Scotland‘s most respected family charities welcomes the news that the Scottish Government will not be using private sector companies to undertake benefits assessments in the new Scottish Social Security System. One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) commissioned research that shows the current benefit conditionality regime, and the fear of being sanctioned, is resulting in worsening health, especially mental health, with resulting negative impacts on children. The report “Single Parent Families, Benefit Conditionality and Wellbeing – Necessary, Just, Effective?” gathers the experiences of single parents who live with the threat of sanctions on a daily basis and how it impacts on their family well-being.
Jeane Freeman MSP said:
“Last week I announced that the Scottish Social Security System will not use private companies to carry out benefits assessments. There is no room for profit in our system, which will be based on fairness, dignity and respect.”
“Over and over again, I heard personal experiences of so very many who have found the experience of the Personal Independence Payments assessment to be one of the most difficult, distressing and demeaning aspects of their whole experience. It is clear the UK Government’s system, like so many of their policies, is failing the people of Scotland.”
“Working closely with our Experience Panels and Expert Advisory Group and with the health and social care sector, we will design a better system. One that from application to assessment ensures we get our first and subsequent decisions right from the start.”
“We want a Scottish Social Security System that will stand both the test of time and the test of trust from the people of Scotland.”
Satwat Rehman, Director of OPFS, said:
“Our research shows that rather than moving towards a society where single parents and children can flourish, we are seeing the results of a Westminster policy, involving the threat of sanctions, which only serves to exacerbate child poverty and inequality and closes down the life chances of a generation of children. The announcement of no private sector involvement in the new Scottish Social Security System will be a relief to the parents we serve as we work towards a more humane, compassionate and effective approach.”
After the event, in Glasgow, single parents with experience of claiming welfare benefits signed up to the Scottish Governments Experience Panels to help shape the way that new system will operate.
- Download the‘Single Parent Families, Benefit Conditionality and Wellbeing’ report here. A summary version is also available.
- One Parent Families Scotland has been supporting and campaigning for single parents for over 70 years.
- OPFS helps thousands of lone parents every year through its Lone Parent Helpline and information services. It also runs projects in Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh, Aberdeenshire, Falkirk and Lanarkshire.
For further information, please contact:
It can be a challenge bringing up children on your own, being solely responsible for their care and the family income. Many single parents, after separating from their partner, feel more secure and positive about their children’s wellbeing; however 47% of children in single parent families live in poverty, around twice the risk faced by children in couple families.
DWP benefit conditionality means single parents now need to look for paid work when their youngest child is 3 years old. Single Parents have to balance being the sole earner for their family with being the only or primary carer. This can be a significant barrier to finding suitable work that fits around caring responsibilities, and those in work often face high childcare costs, low wages and a lack of job security as well as increasing housing costs to come from one wage.
Single parents are not popular in some parts of society and with some of the media. Constant bombardment with words like ‘scrounger’ has a deeply corrosive effect. Assumptions made about your morals, your motives for bringing your child into the world or your fitness to raise that child cut to the core of who you are. The language of ‘skivers versus strivers’ is particularly inappropriate when it comes to single parents, who are already working around the clock to care for their children. Such rhetoric drains confidence and self-esteem from those who desperately want to do the best for their children, to enable them to achieve their potential.
Two thirds of single parents are in paid work. As soon as their children reach the age of 12, this figure rises to nearly three quarters in work, which is the also the national average for mothers in relationships. However ongoing welfare reforms mean many single parents find contact with the benefits system and surrounding government rhetoric profoundly damaging and demoralising.
For example single parent Linda got in touch with OPFS seeking advice she was helped into paid work by JCP, but on a zero hour contract that failed to provide enough income for her family to escape poverty:
“I’ve been forcing into going to a foodbank to get by. It’s so demeaning. I’ve done everything the government has asked me to do but it’s such a struggle.”
Sandra a single parent from the Govan area was on the Work Programme but training to become a teaching assistant at the same time. However she found her Advisor was not supportive of this career option:
“My Advisor told me that I would find it hard to get a job as a Teaching Assistant, and that I should seek care work instead. That was a big knock to my confidence but I aim to pursue my dream.”
In another case, a single parent with two young children was so affected by benefit changes and sanctions that it “pushed her over the edge,” and she ended up on disability benefit.
“I couldn’t believe it, to be sanctioned because I couldn’t sign on at the right time. My daughter had been unwell and I have no-one to help so missed my time. I did call but they said they didn’t get the message.”
Single parents and their children often have to face stigma and judgemental attitudes based on myths, stereotypes, half-truths and prejudices.
In a recent survey nine out of ten single parents told us stigma still needs to be challenged and one in three said they had personally experienced it. We have set up the #ProudSingleParents campaign as when consulted single parents asked OPFS to confront stigma and highlight what is true and what is not.
OPFS is proud to be part of Glasgow City Council’s Poverty Leadership Panel campaign to challenge negative attitudes to poverty. As a society we should challenge negative attitudes towards people experiencing poverty and find out about the reasons why some families live on a low income and how it affects their lives. Poverty is not inevitable. Families experience poverty for many reasons, but its fundamental cause is not having enough money to cope with the circumstances in which they are living. It is neither natural nor acceptable. We all have a role to play in challenging poverty and recognising policy choices can make the difference to ensure all children can achieve their potential.
Let’s celebrate the diversity and achievements of single parents , while challenging the stereotypes and stigma which they often experience.
Head of Policy and Strategy
One of Scotland‘s most respected family charities has accused the Westminster Conservative government‘s benefit conditionality policy of “closing down the life chances of a generation of children.” One Parent Families Scotland commissioned research which they say shows for many parents the stress and anxiety caused by the benefit conditionality regime, and the fear of being sanctioned, is resulting in worsening health, especially mental health, with resulting negative impacts on children. The report “Single Parent Families, Benefit Conditionality and Wellbeing – Necessary, Just, Effective?” gathers the experiences of single parents who live with the threat of sanctions on a daily basis and how it impacts on their family well-being.
Satwat Rehman, Director of One Parent Families Scotland, said today:
“The impact of Westminster benefit conditionality on single parents in Scotland gives OPFS very serious cause for concern. Our staff have dealt with hundreds of single parents whose lives have been turned up-side down by the threat of sanctions and for some by a reduction in their benefit, resulting in having to visit a foodbank to survive. There is already a large body of evidence about the negative impacts of benefit cuts. But there is less focus on the long term impacts of living with the wider conditionality regime and the threat of destitution. We commissioned this research to capture the voices of single parents. It shows that rather than moving towards a society where single parents and children can flourish, we are seeing the results of a policy which only serves to exacerbate child poverty and inequality and closes down the life chances of a generation of children. “
The report shows:
- OPFS is seeing increasing numbers of single parents who are suffering from anxiety and depression associated with the fear of being sanctioned.
- Conditionality is forcing parents to make decisions which they feel are not in the best interests of themselves or their children
- Conditionality and the associated stigma represents a fundamental failure to take the best interests of the child into account contrary to both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Scottish children’s rights legislation as well as wider Scottish Government policy such as Getting It Right for Every Child.
- Single parents say Jobcentre Plus staff are failing to take into account their need to balance their parental responsibilities with requirements to look for paid work.
One Parent Families Scotland says the Westminster government should introduce a duty on Job Centre staff to show they have considered the impact on child well-being of any decision they require a parent to fulfil and to show they have considered the impact on child well-being of any sanction they decide to impose. They argue for the introduction of an early warning system, linked in with the independent advice sector, so that parents know they may be sanctioned and why.
Satwat Rehman believes DWP should pilot alternatives to financial sanctions and the current conditionality regime.
“The Conservative government’s policy extending parent conditionality, means single parents are now expected to prepare for work from when their youngest child turns two, and to look for work when their youngest child turns three. This will cause even more fear among single mothers and result in increased loss of benefit and dependency on foodbanks and even greater child poverty.”
Have Your Say, Share Your Voice!
With Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman MSP
Launch of “Single Parent Families, Sanctions & Family Wellbeing”
What’s been your experience of claiming benefits?
Single parents are still more likely to be unfairly sanctioned than others. When formally challenged, 62% of their sanctions are overturned. What’s the impact of being referred for a sanction, or having a sanction imposed for child and family wellbeing?
Scotland’s New Social Security System
Have your say, shape what happens next.
Scottish Government will control some benefits which have been the responsibility of the DWP. They want to work with single parents and others who have experience of benefits, to help design a new social security system.
Date and time:
Wednesday 26th April 2017
Registration: 09:30 am
Start time: 10.00 am – 13:30 pm
Lunch will be provided
Trades Hall of Glasgow
85 Glassford Street
Glasgow, G1 1UH
Call freephone: 0808 801 0323 or email to register.
Equate Scotland has been working for 10 years to increase the number of women in science, engineering and tech in Scotland and has just launched a new project focused on supporting women who have previously working in these sectors however left either due to caring responsibilities, no longer enjoying the work or a lack of progression. The programme provides career clinics, skills workshops and paid placements with top employers in Scotland to support women back into this work.
There are 40 FREE spaces for women to take part in this programme.
For full details and to apply see the Equate Scotland website.