Welfare Minister Will Quince said it was right that younger people, which may include single parents, receive lower benefits because they have lower “earning potential” and are more likely to be still living at home with parents and relatives.
However, responding to their concerns, Welfare Delivery Minister Will Quince wrote: “The lower rates for younger claimants who are under the age of 25 years reflects the fact that they are more likely to live in someone else’s household and have lower earnings expectations.
“This is intended to maintain the incentive for younger people to find work which has been aided by the Department’s £2 billion Kickstart scheme – already creating thousands of high-quality jobs for young people.”
Responding to the Minister’s comments, Satwat Rehman, Chief Executive of One Parent Families Scotland, said: “The government says under 25s are more likely to live in someone else’s household, but this woefully misunderstands the reality of young parents’ lives.”
She continued: “Around two thirds of under 25s claiming Housing Benefit themselves – and therefore living independently – are parents with young children, and nearly three quarters of young people claiming Housing Benefit are women, precisely because young women are more likely to have dependent children.
“In our many years of supporting young parents, overwhelmingly young women, we could count on one hand the number who were living with their parents.”
She added: “We would urge the government not to defend the indefensible, but to look at the facts and return to the entirely common-sense approach of ensuring young parents are treated by the social security system as the adults they very clearly are.”
“We know from over forty years of working with Care Experienced people that this group don’t always have strong and stable family support on offer.
“Indeed, for many of them the state is still considered their corporate parent.”
Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain MP said: “This Government’s indifference to young people is shocking. Their justifications for allowing young people – particularly young parents – less support through social security are callous, and simply do not add up.”
Scottish Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP said: “There cannot simply be an assumption from the UK Government that young parents will be able to turn to others for support, they should be entitled to the same assistance from social security as everyone else. It should not be handing down this penalty to young parents.”
SNP MP David Linden said: “Support is urgently required for young, lone parent families who are suffering under the contradictory and confusing rules of the Department of Work and Pensions.
“The British Government must do the right thing and end the Young Parent Penalty.”