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1 How can parents escape from recurrent poverty? The low-pay no-pay cycle and disadvantaged mothers Professor Ronald McQuaid, with Vanesa Fuertes and Alec.

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Presentation on theme: "1 How can parents escape from recurrent poverty? The low-pay no-pay cycle and disadvantaged mothers Professor Ronald McQuaid, with Vanesa Fuertes and Alec."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 How can parents escape from recurrent poverty? The low-pay no-pay cycle and disadvantaged mothers Professor Ronald McQuaid, with Vanesa Fuertes and Alec Richard Scottish Policy Innovation Forum at the Royal Society of Edinburgh 14 June 2010 Employment Research Institute Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh

2 2 Policy Context Series of government policies dealing with poverty and child poverty in particular Government aim of ending child poverty by 2020; Scottish Parliament report Mainly by getting more parents into employment – accept poverty & well-being more than just employment Child poverty statistics Proportion of children in poverty higher for workless households Many children in poverty live in households where one or two parents work

3 3 Research Context Few qualitative studies on low-income parents Poverty as a dynamic process – poverty as: Persistent Recurrent Transient Lack of research on recurrent poverty This study was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of their Recurrent Poverty Programme One of the five in the Recurrent Poverty Programme

4 4 Aims of the research Reasons for recurrent poverty among disadvantaged parents and ways to escape it. Special focus on childbearing and childrearing Cycles of poverty caused by cycles of worklessness. Movements into and out of paid employment Barriers and enablers behind those movements

5 5 Methods Quantitative analysis of Working for Families Fund (WFF) data (12,248 parents, from 25,508 on WFF) Informed the qualitative data collection Interviews with Parents (33) 31 WFF clients; 32 women; 14 areas in Scotland Focus groups with professionals (WFF key workers) 3 focus groups with 27 professionals Interviews with three professionals in managerial positions Contrast and complement & solutions to problems

6 6 Quantitative Findings Over one third of mothers had entered employment by the end of WFF Characteristics associated with less likelihood of entering paid employment: No qualifications Long term unemployment Having more children Having children aged 3 to 4 or children aged 12 or over Being under 19 or over 45 Children with disability / chronic health problem / RoN Reported as disabled

7 7 Qualitative Findings

8 8 Data collection Questionnaire Nature of the data collected Participants recollection of past events Specific income details only recorded at time of interview Analysis of the data – dynamic patterns of peoples lives Time-line data displays Example Interviews with Parents

9 9 Going into poverty or worse poverty Inter-related and cumulative factors: External factors including the labour market situation Household circumstances Individuals experiences & characteristics Specific life event/s or critical moments where a household moves into poverty or worse poverty: The birth of a child The breakdown of the relationship Domestic violence, health, etc.

10 10 Trying to escape poverty The majority of our participants felt poor The majority had held one or more jobs since falling into poverty A few participants suffered persistent non-working poverty (3) The majority of parents wanted to work to: Improve household finances; Improve their emotional well-being; Be a role model. Most parents were looking for part-time work Childcare and work-life balance considerations Quote

11 11 Paid employment – route out of poverty? What effect did securing a job actually have? Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation (Cycles of poverty, unemployment and low pay) Figure 1: Relationship between cycles of income and worklessness

12 12 The low-pay no-pay cycle reasons and barriers Low paid jobs – cost of working Low qualifications and obstacles to education The cost and lack of childcare Types and conditions of jobs available Debt Low confidence Quote

13 13 The low-pay no-pay cycle reasons and barriers The operation & levels of benefits and tax credits: The four-week gap Between benefits stoppage when starting work and first pay cheque Working Tax Credit (WTC) Top-up payment based on previous years income (practitioners) The lack of an estimate of entitlement Childcare element of the WTC Four-week gap – inability to cover upfront fees/deposit Payment averaged over the year while demand fluctuates Others: transport; health issues; target or box ticking culture Quote

14 14 Breaking the cycle A few participants (4) have escaped the cycle for a length of time, the majority by obtaining: Full-time jobs that paid above the minimum wage Jobs that solved or limited childcare barriers Effective support to overcome obstacle Same number had recently escaped but are at risk due to: Childcare arrangements Debt repayment Struggling with paid employment

15 15 Conclusions Make work pay Increase access to affordable childcare Encourage employers flexibility To reconcile work and family life Reduce unintended consequences resulting from the benefits and tax credit systems Make them more sensitive and responsive to people on low-incomes to aid movements into and increase sustainability of employment

16 16 Conclusions Deal with debt issues by: Reducing debt incidence Adequate support and repayment schemes to minimise its adverse effects Reduce barriers to education To aid movements into better jobs Have in place adequate support Holistic support targeted at a range of individuals needs Non-employment aspects of well-being, and capabilities, are also crucial

17 17 Thank you for listening Copies of the JRF report are available at: poverty csapeRecurrentPoverty.aspx Copies of the Working for Families reports are available at: orFamilies.aspx

18 18 Reasons out Health Support receive d Finances Reasons in Accepted for training at hospital but moved away with husband job Didnt settle - moved back to home region Overcame a developing problem Feeling Practical & emotional support from X organisation– confidence building / job seeking, offering courses, etc. Husband retired on grounds of ill health – became breadwinner Financially, emotionally & confidence building; felt ready to work; youngest ok working in school hrs; support Friends very helpful emotionally; Parents emotionally + financially Threatened miscarriage Stopped work when husband died – grieving process Had trust issues re. family problem Preferred to work full- time but it did not pay off due to tax issues <> ? Devastated by husbands death – rejected help from those close to her Rejected or unable to accept outside help: offered counselling, went once but not ready for it Grief reaction; mood swings; rejection of others help; A lot more confident now – enjoyed working these two months Going from a 2 to none Income was horrendous <>; Parents provide financial help Widows benefit + husbands pension – not other benefit at all: very hard on this <> Friends support; needed to get out of grieving process Household Moved region with husband Husband ill Husband died Seasonal contract Family problem EMPLOYMENT UNEMPLOYMENT EDUCATION 2000 x Work x work x Work x Work 200x x Work x work 200x 2 nd Child 200x 3 rd Child + Husband illness 200x Husband died Moved away Moved back to home region Married 200x Reasons in Support received Feeling Back 200x IT course 200x 1st Child

19 19 Financial hardship – Falling into poverty Youve always got to count up. When I am putting things in my basket I am always counting everything in my head so to have enough and it is horrible having to do that. (Janet, lone parent with 1 child, unemployed) Back

20 20 Employment – emotional well being I think I was happier when I was working because I was getting out and meeting new folk and seeing different faces every day. And when I am not working I am just stuck doing the same thing day out day in. (Amy, lone parent with 2 children, unemployed) Back

21 21 Employment - role model … I think its really important that both my children learn what is the right way to do things, that you work. My children think that everybody goes to college when they leave school because theyve seen me studying on constantly. I want them to have those values that you work for a living and you earn money and you reach your potential, so I think its important as a role model to them for them to see that. (Rachel – lone parent with 2 children, unemployed) Back

22 22 Barriers – low paid jobs I felt really stressed out because … that is where my wages were going, on my rent and my council tax and then I didnt have anything left even for travel [to work and back]. So I was better off out of work than when I was working. (Emily, lone parent with 2 children, unemployed) Back

23 23 Barriers - childcare It is not being able to say to the employer when I can start, what hours I can do, until you have childcare in place … but you cant get childcare until you are working. (Jane, lone parent with 4 children, unemployed) Back

24 24 Barriers - education Ever since I started college everything has been up and down, like a rollercoaster money-wise. I was better off when I wasnt at college because everything stayed the same. (Mary, lone parent with 3 children, education part-time) Back

25 25 Barriers - debt Everything just hits you when you start working. They come chasing you, that is the most horrible thing about it, because it puts you off, just makes you want to go back on Benefits and just pay £2 a week. I am going to be honest that is how it feels like, but I am trying to deal with it. (Lucy, lone parent with 2 children, working full-time) Back

26 26 Because Id been out of work for such a long time …. when you are at home with young children, especially on your own, you really quickly lose confidence, youre not getting any intellectual stimulation. Youre feeling quite insecure about being a new parent and not really convinced that youre doing it right all the time, its completely normal. It doesnt matter how much of a high flyer you were before, if you find yourself outside that loop, it really quickly goes away. (Rachel, lone parent with 2 children, unemployed) Barriers - confidence Back

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