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Lone-parent families and relative child poverty

Children growing up in single-parent households are nearly twice as likely to be living in relative poverty as those in 2-parent families.

Data this week from the Institute of Fiscal Studies* tell a story of relative disadvantage lasting 2 decades (chart below). However a worrying upturn in 2019-20 reflects the impact of the pandemic and rising cost of living for low-income households.

The IFS presents national figures for the years to 2020. Citizens Advice does not measure relative poverty in the same way. But our real time client information regularly helps policymakers and poverty campaigners understand families in difficulty.

Nationally in the year to June this year 21% of all Citizens Advice clients were single-parent households (Advice Trends: People Profile 2).

Locally Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell client statistics on poverty-related issues are consistent with the IFS findings. A snapshot of the year to June 2022 shows single parents asking for help far more often than 2-parent families. The most notable differences are with debt, universal credit and other benefits (chart below).

Source: Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell Casebook July 2022.

* Pre-pandemic relative poverty rate for children of lone parents almost double that for children living with two parents, Institute of Fiscal Studies, 04/07/22

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