Welfare Cuts Hit Single Black Mothers Hardest Reductions in Benefits Bite Even Deeper When They Come on Top of Racial Discrimination at Work and at Home. as Paul George Discovers, Many Women Are Forced into Desperate Measures in Order to Survive
George, Paul, The Independent (London, England)
SINGLE black mothers are being disproportionately hit by the decreasing value of lone parent benefits and welfare reform, according to campaigners.
A conference yesterday, attended by representatives from black women's organisations across the country, heard that the Government has failed to recognise the unique problems faced by lone ethnic minority parents.
It was predicted that new cuts to lone parent benefits, being introduced from next week, will make the plight of single black mothers, as well as other lone mothers, even worse. It could mean some being pushed into earning a living through illegal means, such as prostitution. A number of benefits, including the premium and child benefit for lone parents, have been frozen since April 1996. This money is vital to many single parents and, because of rising prices, has declined in value. Next week the first of two new cuts to lone parent benefits will be introduced. This reduction, and the other to be implemented in June, will see many single parents losing several pounds a week. Due to measures announced in the Budget, the majority of lone parents will be able to claw back much of what they have lost, but not for several months. Campaigners for single black and Asian parents say there are several obstacles that uniquely affect them, factors even more important because it is estimated that more than 54 per cent of black families are headed by a lone parent. According to the conference organisers, the SIA national network of black women's organisations and Nehanda, a black women's charity, ethnic minority single parents face several specific problems. The SIA says single black parents have to cope with discrimination in the job market, which reduces their opportunities to earn the same salaries as lone white parents. They also have to provide more support for their children, who are disproportionately stopped by the police, bullied and expelled while at school, and play truant to avoid such bullying. In addition, parent networks are often run by white people with little understanding of non-European cultures. One delegate at the conference, who did not wish to be named, said her ability to look after her children was undermined by discrimination in the labour market. The woman, who lives in south London with two daughters, aged seven and three, failed to find a professional job, despite gaining a politics degree and having work experience with an MP in Westminster. She told the Independent on Sunday: "I made more than 100 applications for jobs in politics, such as research, but didn't get anywhere. It was very depressing and I have a strong suspicion that my African-sounding name counted against me. "In the end, I had to settle for a part-time job with the Sock Shop at Liverpool Street Station. …