Pushed to More Precarity: The uneven impact of lockdowns on mothers and lower income parents

Date Posted: Wednesday 17th February 2021

Covid-19EmploymentmothersparentsSelf Employmentwomen

The lockdown efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus have affected everyone’s lives. But the financial and economic impact of lockdowns has entrenched pre-pandemic inequalities. Our survey shows that the uneven impact of school closures, shutdown industries, furlough, and flexible working arrangements are marked between mothers and fathers, those on lower incomes and higher incomes, white and Black, Asian, and ethnic minority groups and those who are not disabled compared to those who are disabled. While the lives and work of everyone has been affected by COVID-19, the jobs and livelihoods of mothers, including low-income, BAME and disabled mothers, have been particularly adversely affected.

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Key findings: 

Financial impact of COVID-19
Over a third of respondents said they were struggling financially to make ends meet since the start of the pandemic.
Mothers were more likely to say that they were struggling financially (40%) compared to fathers (35%).
Over half (53%) of single mothers said they were struggling financially, compared to 35% of married mothers and 46% of cohabiting mothers.

Employment impact of COVID-19
• Approximately one in ten parents reported losing a job since the start of the pandemic (10% mothers, 9% fathers).
Parents on lower incomes were more likely to be affected by losses of job and hours. Nearly a third (31%) of parents with household incomes below £20,000 lost hours, compared to 23% of those with household incomes above £40,000. 13% of respondents on lower incomes lost jobs compared to 9% of those on higher incomes.
Parents with 4 or more children were twice as likely to report losing their jobs since March 2020 compared to parents with one or two children. A third of families with over 3 children reported losing work hours compared to a quarter of 1 or 2 children families. The differences are even larger for fathers.
A much higher proportion of parents in London were worried about their job prospects (69% compared to half of parents in England). Three in four fathers and two in three mothers in London are concerned about their jobs.
Younger parents were more likely to say they lost hours (31% to 22%) and job (11% against 7%). Unsurprisingly, younger parents were also more worried about their job prospects: 53% of younger mothers and 57% of younger fathers, compared to 46% and 44% of older mothers and fathers respectively.

Impact of School Closures
• Prior to the January lockdown, parents on low incomes (household annual income under £20,000) were nine times more likely to report risk of losing their jobs if nurseries/schools/childminders closed or their child was sent home for self-isolation, compared to more advantaged parents (household annual income over £40,000).
Nearly twice as many mothers (15%) report believing they would have to take time off work with no pay due to school closures or a self-isolating/sick child compared to fathers (8%).
• Of those furloughed, mothers were more likely to be put on furlough to look after their children (27%) than fathers (23%).
One in five mothers were made redundant or lost hours because of caring responsibilities, compared to 13% of fathers.