We’d all most certainly prefer that poverty didn’t exist. However, we do then need to be careful over our definitions of said poverty. Something which all too many people shouting about it don’t. It’s possible to entirely trip over ones’ own definitions and end up saying something very silly indeed:

“Single parents [are] being pushed into self-employment, either by jobcentres or as a way to secure insecure work. We are seeing people increasingly self employed as contractors in retail, catering, caring – this is not an entrepreneurial choice, it’s a last resort,” said Dalia Ben-Galim, Gingerbread’s head of policy.

“The impact is pretty obvious. It cannot be right that in 2018 almost half of children from single parent families are living in poverty.”

The problem here being that, given the definition of poverty being used, we’d expect half or more of children in single parent families to be in poverty.

The definition being used here is under 60% of household median income means that the household, and all in it, are in that poverty. Maybe that’s a good target – we don’t think so, it’s a measure of inequality, not poverty – and maybe it isn’t but that’s what it is. The problem being that the median British household has two earners these days. We’d really rather expect single parent households to have lower incomes than median therefore, wouldn’t we?

In fact, this idea that single parent families are in poverty is largely a function of that manner in which we’ve defined poverty in the first place. It’s therefore, as long as we’re paying attention to what we’re saying, not a surprise at all.

Far from it not being right that children in single parent families are in poverty it’s exactly what we would expect.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I am not sure it is what we would expect. I think it is the result of something not mentioned in this article – custody is invariably given to the custodial parent. The one that does most of the care before the divorce. Which invariably means the one that earns less. If you focus on your career, you may not see your children again.

    This is all just an excuse to give custody to the woman, but in the vast majority of cases, the children go to the poorer partner. We could change that by giving them to the richer one.

    It also misses the obvious – they are looking at income and that is a poor measure of wealth. The woman invariable gets the house as well. Who is better off – the man who is now homeless and has to pay a third of his income to his former wife, or the former wife who has a fully paid-off house and a spending allowance? It is not single mothers crowding budget rental accommodation in my experience. It is newly divorced men.

  2. “It is not single mothers crowding budget rental accommodation in my experience. It is newly divorced men.”

    Thats assuming there was a man around (let alone a marriage) in the first place. In the case of divorce I’d say you’re right, however I’d hazard a guess that the vast majority of single mothers have never lived with the father of their child(ren), or if so for a very brief period before he buggered off.

    In the case of a married couple with 2.4 kids and a house getting divorced, then yes the woman will inevitably get the kids and the house and the bloke is left in digs paying for it all. But in the chav underworld, single mothers are immediately swallowed by the welfare system, which will undoubtedly put them in some pretty gruesome accommodation at times. One doubts life as a single mum on a council estate is a bed of roses.

  3. “Dalia Ben-Galim”…is she another friend of Yentob ?

    You are correct in your assessment of the situation. The 60% was always a leftist construct to ensure they could bump up benefits and claim to have lifted people out of so called poverty.

    It reminds me of a local TV piece I saw a couple of years ago on Food Banks. A young single mother explained how she had no money to feed her kids (benefit cuts..blah blah) but we did see she was being interviewed with a 50” flat screen TV behind her and her son playing on an X Box. Cut to an older women who lived rurally and had to have her food bank items delivered. “But what if they can’t deliver” asked the interviewer? ” I have to get in the car and fetch them” replies the woman. The irony seemed to be lost on the interviewer.

  4. I am not sure it is what we would expect. I think it is the result of something not mentioned in this article – custody is invariably given to the custodial parent. The one that does most of the care before the divorce. Which invariably means the one that earns less. If you focus on your career, you may not see your children again.

    This is all just an excuse to give custody to the woman, but in the vast majority of cases, the children go to the poorer partner. We could change that by giving them to the richer one.

    It also misses the obvious – they are looking at income and that is a poor measure of wealth. The woman invariable gets the house as well. Who is better off – the man who is now homeless and has to pay a third of his income to his former wife, or the former wife who has a fully paid-off house and a spending allowance? It is not single mothers crowding budget rental accommodation in my experience. It is newly divorced men.

  5. “It is not single mothers crowding budget rental accommodation in my experience. It is newly divorced men.”

    Thats assuming there was a man around (let alone a marriage) in the first place. In the case of divorce I’d say you’re right, however I’d hazard a guess that the vast majority of single mothers have never lived with the father of their child(ren), or if so for a very brief period before he buggered off.

    In the case of a married couple with 2.4 kids and a house getting divorced, then yes the woman will inevitably get the kids and the house and the bloke is left in digs paying for it all. But in the chav underworld, single mothers are immediately swallowed by the welfare system, which will undoubtedly put them in some pretty gruesome accommodation at times. One doubts life as a single mum on a council estate is a bed of roses.

  6. “Dalia Ben-Galim”…is she another friend of Yentob ?

    You are correct in your assessment of the situation. The 60% was always a leftist construct to ensure they could bump up benefits and claim to have lifted people out of so called poverty.

    It reminds me of a local TV piece I saw a couple of years ago on Food Banks. A young single mother explained how she had no money to feed her kids (benefit cuts..blah blah) but we did see she was being interviewed with a 50” flat screen TV behind her and her son playing on an X Box. Cut to an older women who lived rurally and had to have her food bank items delivered. “But what if they can’t deliver” asked the interviewer? ” I have to get in the car and fetch them” replies the woman. The irony seemed to be lost on the interviewer.

  7. Jim. single mothers are a priority for local councils. So they are still comparing a single mother with a house to her former partner without a house.

    In modern Britain there is no doubt who is better off.

  8. Jim. single mothers are a priority for local councils. So they are still comparing a single mother with a house to her former partner without a house.

    In modern Britain there is no doubt who is better off.