University of Bath

The family-work project: working lone mother families and their children

IPR Policy Brief on the experience of lone mothers, following a move into work supported by tax credits, after a period of time receiving out of work benefits

The family-work project is a longitudinal study of the experience of lone mothers & their children, following a move into work supported by tax credits, after a period of time receiving out of work benefits. The aim was to examine the impact of paid work – and for some, job loss – on family life & living standards over time. The study explored how a cohort of lone mothers & their children negotiated the everyday challenges of low-income employment over a period of five years (2003-2008). The project found that most women maintained some form of employment & were able to negotiate some of the most important years in family life & child development. In some cases, women’s experiences were marked by stress & depression, linked to financial insecurity & debt. The research showed that children played a key role in sustaining their mothers in work by taking on household chores, managing their own care &, in some cases, the care of younger siblings.