23 February 2010
The leaders of the three main political parties in the U.K. have all signed up for a campaign launched by the charity Gingerbread to attempt to end prejudice against single parent families.
The Press Association reports that a survey conducted by Gingerbread, a charity dedicated to working at both the local level and the national level " for and with single
parent families, to improve their lives", found that 83 percent of single
parents believe that society views them negatively.
And research carried out by YouGov seems to support that
For, while the employment rate among
lone mothers and fathers has reportedly increased to 60 percent the number of
people in the general U.K. population who believe that single parents don't work
has also increased, to 65 percent.
Working to counter such a negative view
of single parents Gingerbread, which has its roots in the National Council for
the Unmarried Mother and her Child (and for the Widowed or Deserted Mother in
Need) that was founded in 1918, has launched a campaign it has called "Let's
Lose the Labels".
Aiming to sign up 50 "influential
politicians and media editors" to its campaign Gingerbread has already secured
the support of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.
As well as being British Prime Minister
Mr Brown is leader of the Labour Party, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg being the
leaders of the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats respectively.
However Mr Brown has found himself
criticized in the past for trying to make political gain at the expense of the
seemingly unpopular section of society he has now pledged to support.
For example, in October last year Vince Cable, the
Liberal Democrats' Deputy Leader and Treasury Spokesperson, suggested that Mr
Brown had allowed what he thought was a good
idea to help certain teenage mothers
, through the provision of supervised
homes or hostels, to be overshadowed by the use of a "tough soundbite".
Mr Cable referred to a headline in one
newspaper that read "‘Single mothers to the workhouse" and sent the following
message to the Prime Minister - They're single mothers Gordon, not fallen women.

A highly critical report on the tone
adopted by Mr Brown when announcing his policy to the TUC (Trades Union
Congress) in September 2009 was provided by the left-wing website The
Fiona Weir is the Chief Executive of
Gingerbread - the charity's President is one-time single parent and "Harry
Potter" author J.K. Rowling
-and she has stated that contrary to popular belief there are not large numbers
of single teenage parents in the U.K.
Confirming that only two percent of
single parents are teenagers who have never wed, Ms Weir noted that the average
age of a single parent is 36 and that a majority of such parents have at some
stage been married.
She added:
Single parents are fed up with being portrayed as 'benefit scroungers' or 'bad mothers'. We want to lose these labels in the run up to the general election and welcome support from party leaders as a first
In comparison to the U.K., regarding the
age and employment status of single parents in the U.S.,
citing as its source the report Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their
Child Support: 2005
, published by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007, says
- 79 percent of custodial single mothers
and 92 percent of custodial single fathers were found to be "gainfully
employed", be it on a full-time, part-time or part-year basis
- 37.7% of custodial mothers were aged
40 or older
Furthermore just 31 percent were in
receipt of public assistance, with only six percent requiring TANF
(Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
, a program administered by the Office of Family


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