What is the average income for a single mother in the UK?

For the average single mum in the UK (and probably beyond), one of the biggest challenges to building a life for yourself and your kids is finances. Economically it is incredibly difficult to run a household and raise children on one income. The stereotype of single mothers working multiple jobs to make ends meet exists for a reason, and childcare costs and lack of access to flexible working makes things even worse. I work multiple extra jobs on top of my main job to earn extra money to cover costs, and many of my single mum friends do the same. But what is the average income for a single mother in the UK today? 

Single mum average salary: what is it?

According to a study by the specialist recruitment firm Robert Walters, the national average salary for single mothers is £28,704.64.  In contrast, the average salary for single fathers is £42,852.36, highlighting the gender disparity in earnings among single parents. The average salary for full-time workers in the UK is £42,210. 

Added expenses for single parents

On top of the lower income, there are also increased expenses for single mums. Single parents have to spend upwards of £500 extra than cohabiting parents due to the inability to split payments such as rent or mortgage payments, energy bills, broadband charges and emergency repairs. 

The financial challenges faced by single mothers are further compounded by the high cost of childcare in the UK. Single parents often have to put their career aspirations aside to fit around childcare options and school hours, leading to lower incomes than they might otherwise have if they had the flexibility of affordable childcare or flexible working, or a cohabiting partner to share the load with. 

The impact of lower salaries and higher costs

Single mothers are also more likely to be in poverty compared to other family types. In 2019-20, 45% of single parents were in relative poverty after housing costs , compared to 22% of parents in a couple and 20% of all working-age adults. The poverty rate is even higher for children living in single parent households. Read my report on this here. 

A growing group

The challenges of single parenthood are evident, especially for single mums. But since single mums are a growing demographic in the UK, more needs to be done to support those facing these challenges. There are currently 2.47 million single mums in the UK.  

What would help?

  • Increasing the availability and affordability of childcare, such as through the extension of free childcare hours for single parents.
  • Providing more support for single parents to access education and training opportunities to improve their earning potential.
  • Ensuring that child maintenance payments are made consistently and at a level that adequately supports the child’s needs by reforming the CMS. 
  • Implementing policies to address the gender pay gap and promote equal opportunities for women in the workplace.
  • Abolishing per-person income caps for child-related benefits, and implementing household earning means tests. 
  • Increased access to flexible working. 

While the average income for a single mother in the UK is significantly lower than the national average, more and more single mothers are facing poverty and financial hardship. Addressing the systemic barriers that single mothers face requires a multi-faceted approach, and until single parents are identified as a protected group, this is unlikely to be addressed. Check out singleparentrights.org to find out how you can help campaign for better. 

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