Single mothers hardest hit by cuts - Fawcett Society

Mother and child
Image caption Single mothers are also being worst affected by cuts to public services, the charity says

Single mothers will be hardest hit by the government's programme of benefit cuts and tax rises, according to campaign group the Fawcett Society.

It estimates they will lose an average 8.5% of their income after tax by 2015.

The gender equality charity said this compared with 7.5% for single fathers, 6.5% for couples with children and 2.5% for couples without children.

The Fawcett Society says "women are bearing the brunt". The Treasury has yet to comment.

The report was compiled from analysis conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies on the impact of changes announced by Chancellor George Osborne in March's Budget, plus last autumn's Comprehensive Spending Review and the emergency Budget of June 2010.

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equality between women and men, estimates that by 2015 the average single mother will have lost the equivalent of more than one month's income per year.

It said this was due to changes including a three-year freeze on child benefit, cuts in housing benefit, a reduction in the childcare element of the working tax credit and the restriction of maternity grants to the first child.

The charity also said single mothers were being hardest hit by cuts to public services, estimating that these were costing them the equivalent of 18.5% of their net income - more than double the impact on couples with children.

Fawcett's acting chief executive Anna Bird said: "Single women, on average, are set to lose a greater proportion of their income than other households, such as single men or couple households.

"In part this is because women are typically poorer than men but it is also because women make up the vast majority of lone parents - and it is this group that are set to lose most under the reforms.

"Some of the least well-off in our society are being forced to act as shock absorbers for the cuts, with women - in particular single mothers - faring worse."

Last year the Fawcett Society failed in a legal bid to secure a judicial review of the legality of the government's savings cuts.

The charity had argued that the government's plans failed to comply with the duty to have regard to their impact on equality.

The Treasury successfully argued that it was impossible to make a meaningful assessment of the different impact of the measures on men and women.

Ms Bird says the data from the IFS "puts paid to the idea that the government can't anticipate or predict the impact of its fiscal policies on different demographic groups".

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