Welfare Reform: Sex


The most pronounced direct impacts are in general on young men sanctioned under the JSA regime. However the impact on lone parents (as noted below) is significantly on women, and has potentially far reaching consequences on those children and young people dependent on a parent.

This information should also be viewed with specific consideration to the characteristics covered within welfare reform:

Due to the overlapping issues which contribute to poverty, this section should also be viewed in conjunction with the following:


Key Facts and Figures

17% of children with a lone parent who works full-time, and 31% with a lone parent who works part-time lives in poverty (i.e. a household income of less than 60% of the median national household income).

Source: Exploring the impacts of the UK government’s welfare reforms on lone parents moving into work; Employment Research Institute; May 2014

Research by Save the Children suggests around 90% of the 163,000 lone parents in Scotland are women. Considering the above figures, this would suggest women are disproportionally reliant upon certain benefits.

Subsequently, women may be disproportionately impacted by welfare reform. As due to their over-representation as lone parents, in conjunction with broader social issues, such as difficulty in accessing the labour market, women may not have access the same level of income or financial support as men.

Source: Save the Children. 2012. Ending Child Poverty: Ensuring Universal Credit Supports Working Mums.

As women typically are the majority of lone parent carers there are a number of specific considerations of the impact of welfare reform on women attempting to return to the workforce, and the potentially disproportionate effect of JSA sanctions on this cohort.

The combination of low employability and external barriers to employment make it highly challenging for lone parents to get into, and stay in, employment.


Further Information

Research continually demonstrates lone parents as disproportionately likely to occupy low skilled, low status jobs. These positions do not pay a sufficient wage to allow them to move out of poverty.

They may also struggle to work enough hours. Underemployment (being in paid employment but wanting to work more hours) has increased since the start of the economic downturn in 2008, and is particularly common among low skilled occupations (of whom 23% are thought to be underemployed).

Source: Glasgow Centre for Population Health. 2014. Exploring the Impacts of the UK Government’s Welfare Reforms on Lone Parents Moving into Work

These difficulties lone parents face in securing a job and a sufficient income are key challenges for any anti poverty strategy. For example, the Scottish Government’s framework Achieving Our Potential, actively promotes getting into and progressing in work as a route out of poverty. Yet, as discussed, employment is not necessarily the solution to poverty.

Source: Scottish Government. 2008. Achieving Our Potential.

73% of all sanction decisions in the UK are for men, and as noted young men are also disproportionately affected by the application of JSA sanctions.

Source: DWP, Stat-Xplore, May 2014