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Nearly 70 percent of single-parent families have reported or are expecting their income to drop during the coronavirus pandemic, a recent survey by the Single Parent Support Association says.

The Osaka-based group is calling for greater financial assistance to be given to such families as the pandemic is expected to take a particularly hard toll on them as they are more likely to fall into financial hardship.

In its online survey, which received 1,292 responses from single parents across the nation between May 22 and 24, 67.1 percent said incomes had dropped or were expected to drop compared with last year, while 37.2 percent reported no change.

“Many single-parents families are not covered by the planned emergency benefits, and we’ve heard voices from people who are already experiencing financial struggles,” Tomohiro Imai, director of the group, was quoted as saying by NHK.

In its second extraordinary budget approved last week, the government allocated about ¥140 billion in aid for single-parent households. It is also set to hand ¥50,000 to single parents with one child and ¥30,000 for each additional child.

But the Single Parent Support Association stressed that requirements should be eased. The cash handout program will only be for families who already receive child-rearing allowances designated for low-income single parents or those whose income has been severely curtailed by the virus. The amount of the child-rearing allowance varies depending on income and number of children. For instance, a single-parent household with one child can receive ¥43,160 a month if their income is under ¥1.6 million annually.

The survey showed that 70 percent of those who responded were recipients of the child-rearing allowance. But more than 80 percent of the total said such support should be provided for all single-parent families.

One single mom in her 30s said the eligibility for the monthly child-rearing allowance is quite strict in the first place, so there are single parents who do not qualify but are still suffering.

The results of the support group’s questionnaire showed that more than 80 percent of households reported an increase in expenditures during the pandemic. Some lamented that the cost of food and utilities rose as children were forced to stay home during school closures, while others said spending rose because of the need to buy such things as masks, some of which were sold at unusually high prices.

The financial impact of the coronavirus may be more significant for single mothers, who accounted for 75 percent of the respondents.

According to the ministry’s data on single-parent households headed by mothers, their average annual income in 2015 was ¥3.48 million. In contrast, the average income for households headed by single fathers was ¥5.73 million.

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