Equal opportunities monitoring and the dissing of single parents and carers
By Swheatie of the KUWG
I am in the process of compiling returns on behalf of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, in response to an equalities monitoring exercise put out by Camden Council. (The Council funds the Kingsgate Community Centre in Kilburn Ward of Camden where we have our meetings.) I believe that there seems to be a serious omission or two, at least.
The categories Camden wants numbers for are:
- Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic, or Refugee
- Young People (18-24 yrs olds)
- Older People (50+)
Yet the very broad social group that is single parents is yet again seriously targeted by punitive 'welfare reforms' that ignore the fact that even the DWP recognises that
"Where single parents are not working, this is often because there are health issues that make work difficult: 33 per cent of unemployed single parents have a disability or longstanding illness (25) and 34 per cent have a child with a disability (26) "
See Gingerbread - Statistics
So a council's monitored categories pay no regard to the vital matter of parenting while the stress of under-provision that David Cameron and his wife never experienced while raising a very severely disabled child has a serious impact on family stability, especially when childcare funding is on the decline. (I have read previously on a Gingerbread factsheet around 2010, that overall in the UK, the figures relating to disabled parents and parents of disabled children as single parents was 1 in 7. It seems that the DWP regards disability as tantamount to fecklessness, perhaps?
Through the casework of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, I know that single parents — especially those who do not know their rights! — are most likely to be bullied at the jobcentre by threat of sanctions, even while the single parent concerned is doing what they can raising two children and attending a pre-university course with which they are making progress. It seems as a general rule that both single parents and people with poor command of the English language are especially prone to be targeted for excessive jobsearch demands that are really designed to break the person into burnout leading to sanctions, or to get so fed up that they recklessly sign-off the dole, than to ever help them get a job. (I have received anecdotal evidence that staff running 'Mandatory Work Programme' at Ingeus are especially hard on young Somali men, demanding that they apply for a minimum of 50 [yes, fifty!] jobs per week.)
At the same time, I also draw attention to the role of family-based carers that in some ways parallels that of single parents. It has been estimated that family-based carers' contribution to society saves the NHS more per year than the annual budget of the NHS!
Against this backdrop, there is a petition to invest in a caring society via a living wage for mothers and other carers. But experience suggests that even with a separate table being provided for single parent's children, it is difficult to accommodate single parents in a once-a-week business meeting. I believe that local councils need to consider this matter when they lay out their equalities monitoring schemes.