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Using child maintenance as a tool to enhance the circumstances, outcomes and wellbeing of lone mothers and children.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, April 29, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

When lone-mothers receive child maintenance the risk of poverty reduces and the poverty gap closes by 30% in the UK. Child maintenance is where a non-resident parent regularly gives money to the parent with whom the child lives most of the time as a contribution towards the costs of raising a child. When the non-resident parent pays child maintenance they are also more likely to remain actively involved in their children’s lives. This suggests that the payment of maintenance can typically enhance children’s wellbeing and outcomes through increased income and through non-resident parental engagement in post-separation family situations. Most wealthy societies have formal child maintenance systems in place and seek, to varying degrees, to ensure payment compliance from the non-resident parent. Compliance varies across countries, from a low of 22% in the UK to a high of 100% in Sweden. Non-compliance with child maintenance is a growing issue but is an area of social policy that is not routinely considered in relation to improving the financial circumstances of lone-parents. This is especially the case in the UK where much of the focus is on facilitating their access to employment rather than their entitlement to financial support from a non-resident parent. Where there are low levels of compliance with child maintenance, eg the UK, children report that they take on the task of negotiating money, care and time between separated parents; an experience of which policy-makers take little notice. Children become frustrated and worried about their resident parent not receiving maintenance and they try to ease tensions between their parents around money and contact. This research uses longitudinal quantitative data from children and parents and, qualitative data from children, to explore the impacts of the payment/non-payment of child maintenance on child and lone-parent socioeconomic and other outcomes.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:-

• A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science component.
• Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of, social policy, socioeconomic inequalities, poverty, gender, children and families, children’s rights and participation.
• Have a good grounding in social statistics and be willing and able to extend statistical knowledge to an advanced level.

To be eligible for a full award (fees and stipend) you must meet the following ESRC eligibility criteria:-

- have settled status in the UK, meaning there are no restrictions on how long you can stay
- have been ’ordinarily resident’ in the UK for three years prior to the start of the studentship grant. This means you must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences)
- not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. This does not apply to UK and EU nationals.

To be eligible for a fees-only award, you must be ordinarily resident in an EU member state, in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK.

To apply:-

1. Applicants should register on GradHub on the ESRC website and fill out EO data (this is a requirement of the application process)

2. Applicants complete and upload the prescribed list of required documentation to include:
•Application form
•Academic transcripts
•References
•CV
•a cover letter that outlines why you are interested in this studentship, that demonstrates your existing statistical skills and interest/experience in qualitative research with young people, and that gives an overview of the skills and experiences you would bring to this PhD focus in particular – this should be uploaded in a standalone document with a naming convention *name/supervisor/institution/competition/date*

3. Applicants submit application through GradHub.

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 16 May 2019. Interviews will take place in late May/early June 2019. All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within Heriot-Watt University. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Funding Notes

The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in October 2019 and includes:-

- an annual maintenance grant for Home students only at the RCUK rate (2019/20 rate £15,009 full-time)
- fees at the standard Home rate (EU students will be expected to pay the difference)
- students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

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