Diane Cawsey on why George Osborne must stop attacking single mums
This is a guest post by Diane Cawsey, from Dover. She is married with two dogs and one cat and is a keen volunteer, working locally with individuals as well as families.
At the beginning of the week I was standing in the kitchen, at work, with a male colleague watching the news. George Osborne’s face popped on to the screen and he started delivering his speech detailing that unemployed families with more than two children would now receive fewer benefits. My male colleague was very pleased with this saying “why should I support all those kids, it’s not my responsibility to look after other people’s children”. But I believe Mr Osborne has got it wrong – by reducing welfare payments, unemployed families will face greater hardship than ever before.
The burden of not having enough money contributes significantly to families struggling to make ends meet. The daily grind of living on benefits contributes to many relationships breaking down resulting in single female parents trying to make ends meet living on benefit payments.
The single parents I meet tell me stories of hardship whereby the heating goes off at 7pm otherwise there’s not enough money for food or they would like to go out to work but there’s no one to look after the baby as childcare is too expensive. Moreover, the women I meet never choose to be single parents. Their relationships break down due to financial pressures; their partners are often no longer prepared to stay when things get tough. Many single parents I meet are housed in ghettos sharing similar stories with their neighbours and once again, it is women who are the scapegoats being blamed for the welfare deficit through to destroying the “nuclear family”.
When I was 15, my friend gave birth and she was put in a local unmarried mothers’ home. Once the baby was born she was relocated to a grim bedsit in the next town. This was only the 1980s but could easily be compared to the 1880s for the cold, harsh and grim reality of having a baby out of wedlock. Luckily my friend kept her baby, married the father and went on to have two more children – a fairy-tale type ending.
Thankfully, women can now choose whether to stay with their partners, the social stigma of being unmarried and pregnant has faded over time and the adage of “for the sake of the children” no longer applies to modern relationships. Why should women put up with errant partners? Yet it is a brave woman who goes it alone, raising her children without a partner to share the task.
I cannot help but wonder if George Osborne was female would mothers still be in his cross hairs? If George was a woman, this latest witch hunt might have long been superseded with a more relevant idea to reduce the deficit. George you’re not being very original: stop picking on women.
Photo of George Osborne by altogetherfool, shared under a Creative Commons licence.