The time-related underemployment of lone parents during welfare reform, recession and austerity: A challenge to in-work conditionality?

Anthony Rafferty, Jay Wiggan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Reforms to UK social security benefits introduced between 2008 and 2012 that increased lone parent obligations to enter employment coincided with economic crisis and government austerity. Increases in underemployment in the broader population during this period both in terms of unemployment and time‐related underemployment raise questions regarding the extent to which lone parents not only managed to enter paid work but obtain a sufficient number of employment hours. Activation policies have increased labour market exposure at a time of greater underemployment. At the same time, high levels of economic hardship, in the context of stagnant real wage growth and benefit cuts linked to broader austerity policy, could place additional pressures on lone parent time‐related underemployment where a desire for greater employment hours to improve household income is not met by availability. We present findings showing disproportionately high growth in time‐related underemployment among lone mothers with, at peak, around one in five employed lone mothers with a youngest dependent child aged over five experiencing such underemployment. The implications to in‐work conditionality policies and the roll out of the UK's new working age benefit Universal Credit are highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-538
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Volume51
Issue number3
Early online date4 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Keywords

  • welfare reform
  • lone parents
  • recession
  • economic crisis
  • underemployment
  • time-related underemployment
  • universal credit

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