It has been widely reported that single parents will be one of the groups hardest hit by the outcomes of this year’s Federal budget.
Changes to family tax benefits, designed to save money and get primary carers back to work, are likely to hit sole parents and parents of disabled children very hard.
At the same time, household debt per person has peaked to its highest in 25 years, a fact supported by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures.
For single parent households
on one income, these factors compound and make it a struggle to find money to pay the rent, let alone to buy a home of their own.
According to the ABS 2011 Census, there were over 900,000 single parent families in Australia, comprising 36% of families with children. That trend is on the rise, up by almost 10% since 2006.
This means that one in six families are single parent families. It is therefore likely that most of us know someone who is raising children on their own and will understand the financial and emotional stress they face – particularly in relation to housing security.
Mothers are often the ones left to make ends meet, heading up more than 80% of single parent families, and they are greatly under represented when it comes to home ownership.
It is essential for the wellbeing and security of these families and society that there are finance options available that responsibly recognise their circumstances and offer flexible lending terms, to ensure they have an opportunity to access the security of home ownership.
Part of this may mean recognising a broader range of incomes, such as Centrelink payments and Family Tax Benefits, or providing ways for them to boost the amount of money they can borrow without increasing repayments, such as subsidised or shared appreciation loans.
These types of options, all of which HomeStart offers, can give single parents the ability to purchase their former spouse’s share of the house and help them keep their children in the family home.
Over time, single parents generally begin to find their feet after a separation and establish more financial independence. Often, giving them a helping hand over the first financial hurdle and setting them on the right pathway is all they need.
Unfortunately, addressing the financial side is only one part of the home ownership equation, with the other big challenge being the availability of affordable housing.
In recent times, we’ve seen a number of successful housing developments resulting from the public and private sectors working together, such as the Ergo Apartments in the Adelaide CBD targeted mainly at first home buyers. Surely similar models could be used to provide more affordable housing for single parents.
Raising a family with two parents is difficult enough – so I can only imagine how hard it must be when you are on your own. It’s time for us to give single parents a break and help them find the security that comes with home ownership.