Money Wellness

Support for single parents

A quarter of all families in the UK have just one parent, according to 2022 figures. The Child Poverty Action Group report that produced these stats also reveals how expensive it is to raise a child for the nation’s 1.8 million single parents.

According to the charity, the full cost of bringing up a kid (including childcare and housing) is £157,562 for a couple but a staggering £208,735 for a lone parent.

The figure is higher for single parents because fixed expenses such as transport are covered by fewer people so more of those costs are attributable to the child.

mother and child with coins

The life of a single parent in the UK in 2023

Another report from the charity Gingerbread on the experience of single parents in the UK in 2023 shows the financial situation of two thirds of those questioned is worse than it was a year ago. One in five of respondents said they use credit to pay for household essentials and a similar number revealed they rely on food banks.

The same report found a third of lone parents have fallen deeper into debt over the past 12 months, with almost half of those seeing the amount they owe increase by at least £1,000. Overall, 76% of single parents in the UK are in debt and, of those, half owe more than £2,000.

Financial support for single parents

Benefits

The first thing to check if you’re a single parent and you’re struggling to make ends meet is that you’re claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to. We've got a free benefits calculator you can use.

The various benefits available to single parents include:

  • Universal credit
  • Council tax reduction
  • Child benefit
  • Up to 30 hours of free childcare
  • Tax-free childcare
  • Widowed parent's allowance
  • Free school meals
  • Healthy start vouchers
  • NHS low-income scheme

The financial support you can get will depend on your individual circumstances.

Grants

Single parents can also apply for grants to help cover one-off purchases – such as paying for a school uniform – or everyday costs. To get a grant you’ll have to meet certain qualifying criteria. Those criteria vary depending on the organisation offering the grant.

You can use the Turn2Us charity’s grants search to find out what you’re eligible for.

Money worries? Get free debt advice today

Or learn how Money Wellness can help with free debt advice.

All our debt advice is free. Some solutions are free. For others, there’s a fee.

Get started

Emotional support for single parents

According to the mental health charity Mind, being a single parent can make it more difficult to deal with stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, they offer a number of suggestions that may help including:

  • Looking after your own wellbeing
  • Building a support network
  • Working out what triggers your stress so that you can prepare to deal with it
  • Organising your time so you feel more in control
  • Getting involved in the community
  • Seeking support for the issues causing you stress

For more information on all of this, read Mind’s guide on managing stress and building resilience.

And remember, if money worries are the main cause of your anxiety, we’re here to offer free advice on improving your financial wellbeing so you can live more and stress less.

Money Wellness blogs

Illustrated image of kids playing sports. Free summer activity clubs for kids. Holiday activities and food programme. HAF. Who is eligible for HAF? Benefits. Free school meals. universal credit
benefits

16 Jul 2024

Millions of families entitled to free summer holiday clubs

Find out if you could get free activity club places and food for your kids this summer

Illustration of investigation and surveillance
benefits

15 Jul 2024

Crackdown on benefit fraud: make sure you’re not committing fraud by omission

How to avoid getting in trouble for failing to report a change in circumstances

Illustration of person stopping payment
benefits

15 Jul 2024

Over 180,000 have benefits stopped after missing deadline

What to do if you receive a migration notice

Photo of Scottish flag in Edinburgh
benefits

15 Jul 2024

Pressure mounts on Starmer to scrap two-child benefit cap

SNP adds to the pressure on Starmer to end the cap.

Illustration of family of five
benefits

12 Jul 2024

Will Starmer scrap two-child benefit cap?

Starmer says the government can’t afford to scrap the policy yet.

Illustrated image of food. Household Support Fund free school holiday vouchers
benefits

10 Jul 2024

Are you entitled to £120 free food vouchers this summer?

Find out if you're one of the thousands of families who will be given free food vouchers this summer