Battle for Survival as 5,000 More Mums Join Welfare Line; HIGH COST OF LIVING HITS SINGLE PARENTS

Article excerpt

THE number of single mothers claiming benefits has increased by a massive 10 per cent in just over a year.

Almost 5,000 unmarried mothers have joined the welfare queue since the start of 1997.

But a lone parent's rights organisation last night said mothers were finding it almost impossible to seek employment because of escalating rent and childcare costs.

Margaret Dromey, spokes-person for Treoir, the Federation of Services for Unmarried Parents, said the huge costs of living were locking single mothers out of the workplace.

"Being a lone parent is very difficult," she said.

"Childminding costs now run to at least pounds 70 a week, while accommodation for a mother and her child will cost pounds 100 to pounds 150 a week - at least.

"They have very little chance of having any change left over at the end of the week.

"Unfortunately, single mothers get a lot of unfair criticism. There is still a stigma attached to it."

But she said mothers raring a child on their own had to scrape by on less than pounds 90 a week social welfare payments.

There has been a staggering 150 per cent increase in single mothers on welfare since 1990.

And while they get rent allowance, lone parents still have to contribute at least pounds 10 from their pounds 88.70 allowance.

In general, the number of one-parent families claiming assistance from the state has risen by a massive 270 per cent over the last 10 years.

There are now 50,000 unmarried mothers on state benefits, while 16,575 are separated and 1,575 have been widowed.

Research has previously shown that single mothers claim assistance for an average of five years, but that is understood to be rising.

A study being carried out by the government suggests that unmarried mothers are now tied to the social welfare system for longer.

There has also been a huge surge in the number of separated parents who are now relying on the state.

THE number of mothers from failed marriages who are locked into state benefits has almost tripled in the last 10 years.

With the influx of divorce it is predicted that many parents will be struggling to make ends meet on their own.

Many are forced to rely on the social welfare system after a marriage breaks down because incomes are split between two homes. …