Mims Davies: ‘As A Single Mum Minister, I Know Only Too Well How Challenging Being A Single Parent In Employment Can Be’

On Single Parents Day, the Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression opens up about the challenges of being a single mother in politics – and says lone parenting should not be a barrier to progressing your career.

Mims Davies

by Mims Davies |
Published on

If you are not a carer now, the chances are you will be in the future. Few people know the pressure of caring responsibilities more than single parents, especially when it comes to finding the time and energy to progress in your professional life at the same time. I, like many other single parents, perform that balancing act of juggling my career with caring for my children day in day out.

As a single mum minister, I know only too well how challenging being a single parent in employment can be. Just this week I had a debate in parliament clash with a school play, not to mention the daily search for socks, helping with homework and planning dinners that fill my already lengthy to-do list.

As minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, where I have responsibility for government policy on social mobility, youth and progression, I am determined to ensure the barriers to work for single parents - which they have been facing for too long - are fully broken down. A parent in a steady job who can strike a work-life-balance suited to their specific needs not only ensures financial stability for the family but also provides a fantastic role model for their children.

Barriers to work like high childcare costs and inflexible working hours have put pressure on the labour market with many single parents who want to work being denied that opportunity. Progress is being made to change that.

I’m proud we announced last week that we will soon be supporting single parents much further on Universal Credit by paying childcare upfront and increasing the amount someone can be paid to over £950 for one child and over £1,600 for two children. This will give thousands of mums and dads the financial freedom to move back into work or vitally increase the number of working hours they can take on if they already have a job. Parents already working at least 16 hours a week are now also in line for 30 hours of funded childcare for every single child over the age of nine months old.

Reforms made by my department to the Child Maintenance Service will allow it to enforce payments quicker and further protect those vulnerable from abusive ex-partners. Our £47 million Reducing Parental Conflict program allows councils to help separated parents work more collaboratively by offering parent counselling and online relationship support so single parents feel more confident and secure to pursue a career.

This Single Parents Day, we have also announced a new In Work Progression drive which will help over 1.6 million low-income earners secure job promotions and achieve better pay. Single parents across the country will be able to make use of a local DWP Progression Lead who will work with skills providers and develop tailored job opportunities.

I call on any single parents who feel like they have a mountain to climb to get back on the career ladder, to go to their local jobcentre or use the Job Help website and find out what support is available to them. My dad was attacked at work when I was growing up and life got tough as a result. We needed the safety net of the state to help us through. There is no shame in seeking support.

Employers also have a responsibility to change job design, so roles are better suited to single parents, especially accommodation of the caring responsibilities so many of us face. But whether it is the support we offer from government, or the changes employers make in the workplace, every small step forward is progress for single parents right across the UK. Our future depends on our children. It’s only right their mums and dads are given the chance to thrive.

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