The government should develop a 'time poverty' target for parents alongside the existing child poverty target if it is to secure the best outcomes for children, suggests the latest research from the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at LSE.
'The government's strategy to tackle child poverty is based on getting more parents into paid work but this does not recognise that children need time as well as money', said Dr Tania Burchardt, in her latest study for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
'A change to the rules for lone parents claiming benefits came in to force on Monday (24 November), requiring them to look for work when their youngest child reaches the age of 12. This is a clear example of government policy which may tackle income poverty but ignores the possible negative impact on time poverty', she continued.
Over 50 per cent of children live in a home where their parents/carers have too little time or not enough money and one in fifteen children live where both are scarce.
A combination of time and income poverty make it impossible for children to thrive and many adults cannot escape one without increasing the other.
Dr Burchardt, a senior research fellow at CASE, found that resources such as time, money and support, and responsibilities including childcare and personal care, determine how someone can allocate time between personal care, paid work and unpaid work - free time is what is leftover.
Some people find themselves time poor, some income poor and others - 1.6 per cent of all working age adults - are left both time and income poor.
Young, single parents with young children and low or no education were at particularly high risk of both time and income poverty - with no means to escape it.
'No person should be forced to choose between one kind of poverty and another, yet over half of all single parents cannot be free of both time and income poverty no matter how long or hard they work,' said Dr Burchardt.
One way to tackle this is to raise the educational attainment of people in time and income poverty, as the study found those with higher qualifications were protected against this dual poverty as Dr Burchardt explains:
'More effective support for people to develop their educational potential could be provided through regulation to ensure employers provide adequate time off for studying for work-related qualifications and the extension of childcare tax credits to also cover study hours.'
Participants who were interviewed for the study also made recommendations about how policy should be changed to support them, including schools providing cover on teacher training days, nursery vouchers for three and four year olds covering longer hours and flexible working being a right, not simply a right to request.
Click here or visit http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cr/CASEreport57.pdf for a copy of the full report Time and Income Poverty, which includes case studies of people experiencing time and income poverty.
Visit www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/2311.asp for a summary of findings produced by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Launch event details
Time Poverty and Income Poverty will be launched at an event today (Wednesday 26 November), 4.30-6pm, in R505, 5th Floor, LSE Research Laboratory, Lionel Robbins Building, entrance in Portugal Street, London WC2.
To attend the event please contact Anna Tamas at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7955 6562.
Press, please contact Esther Avery, LSE Press Office, on 020 7955 7060 or at email@example.com
Tania Burchardt will be available for interview and comment prior to and following the launch event on Wednesday 26 November.
To speak to her outside these times or on the phone, contact Esther Avery in the Press Office on 020 7955 7060 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
This research was conducted by analysing the UK Time Use Survey (2000) and conducting one-to-one interviews with people juggling work and care responsibilities.
Channel 4 News Online (26 November)
'Time poverty' fear over benefits
Dr Tania Burchardt of the London School of Economics (LSE), who carried out the research, said: "The government's strategy to tackle child poverty is based on getting more parents into paid work, but this does not recognise that children need time as well as money.
'Time poverty' fear over benefits
Government strategies to tackle child poverty could leave parents unable to spend enough time with their children, a report warned.
26 November 2008