Satwat Rehman responds to the first Fair Start Scotland statistics, and highlights the need for single parent participation to be tracked
We welcome the positive start that Fair Start Scotland has made. We are concerned however that government are unable to say how many single parents have been helped to gain employment through this programme. We would like to see the impact of Fair Start on the drivers of poverty and how we support single parents. Are they accessing it? Is it appropriate?
To personalise and tailor employment services, we need to know who is and isn’t benefiting and the reasons for that and how we address those reasons. In order to know that we need to have the data and we need to be able to do some of that number crunching as well as looking at the quality of the experience of individuals.
The lack of jobs that offer flexible working can mean single parents get stuck in part-time work, which is often low-paid, and makes it difficult to balance work and family life. With access to good quality and accessible childcare over a third of single mothers would work more hours.
Collectively we need to look at how we use social security powers, wider powers across government including employability and mainstream services to work together to tackle child poverty. Reducing costs, increasing income, support to overcome barriers whilst making changes to delivery mechanisms, structures and employment practices are all crucial.
We need to put in place what families that we work with have been asking for and speaking about for years, the same issues are raised time and again - access to training, childcare, transport, costs of working, suitability of work, the living wage and a social security system which prevents poverty, treats people with dignity and respect and supports everyone to flourish. And when asked what is it that would be the ultimate aim, it’s really simple. Single Parents should have the same quality of life that many of us take for granted.
And I think that’s really important for us to bear in mind, enough money for an adequate standard of living and the ability to make their own choices and not be told what’s good for them.
Satwat Rehman is director of One Parent Families Scotland, Scotland’s national organisation for single parents