One in eight babies in Bedford born to single parents
One in eight Bedford babies are born to single parents, new data reveals.
Single parent charity Gingerbread said lone parents still face some stigma, but that recent reports debunk the idea that having only one parent can negatively impact children.
Office for National Statistics figures show that 199 babies were registered by just one parent.
A further 97 had two parents living at different homes.
That's a total of 296 children being raised by single parents in 2017 – 14% of the births in Bedford.
Across England, 52% of babies were registered by parents who were married or in a same-sex civil partnerships, in line with the average for the UK.
In Bedford, it was 56%.
Rosie Ferguson, chief executive of Gingerbread, said single parents' aspirations for their children may be thwarted by circumstances out of their control.
She said: "The majority of single parents work, but many are still locked out of the secure, flexible employment opportunities they need in order to provide for their children.
"Low-paid and insecure jobs, as well as the lack of affordable childcare, mean that some single parents struggle to put food on the table for their children.
"The Government must work with Jobcentres, employers and childcare providers to ensure that work genuinely provides a route out of poverty.
"We need to strengthen the system of support for single parents to provide a decent standard of living for them and their children."
There were 667 babies born to couples who were living together but not married - 30% of the total.
When counted alongside those who are married or in a civil partnership, it means that 86% of babies in Bedford were born to a family with two parents at home.
In 2017, there were 2,190 births, 1,119 boys and 1,071 girls.
In 32 cases, mothers in Bedford went into labour at home.