Money Wellness
A single mum carrying her young daughter
category iconcost of living
calendar icon27 Oct 2023

Families resorting to drastic measures to survive

UK families are resorting to drastic measures to survive the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, new research shows.

A report from the Money Charity reveals households with children are being hit hardest by rising prices and parents are making big sacrifices to try and protect their kids.

In London, 25% of working parents have skipped meals so that their children could eat and 11% are surviving on less than £3 worth of food a day.

Across the country, 15% of families said they had missed an essential payment - such as a loan, credit card or housing bill – in the past month. This compares to 5% of households with no children.

Why are families affected more?

The Money Charity suggests this may be down to the growing cost of raising children. It’s estimated it costs £160,692 to raise a child to their 18th birthday. This is £24.44 a day – up 12.6% since 2012.

Approximately 22% of a couple’s basic costs are covered by child benefit.

Even worse for single-parent families

The cost of raising a child to 18 when you’re a single parent is even higher at £193,801. This is £29.50 a day – an increase of 25% since 2012.

Only 16% of a single parent’s basic costs are covered by child benefit.

The effect of the two-child benefit cap

Families with more than two kids are also affected by a benefit cap. It is estimated 1.5 million children (one in ten) are impacted by this. The limit is thought to see affected families lose £50 a week on average.

Pushed to the brink

Many families across the UK are now at the point where an unplanned expense could push them over the brink. In 2021-22, 39% of families had between £0 and £1,500 in savings. This figure rises to 79% among single-parent families. Families in this position have nothing or very little to rely on in the event of a financial emergency.

Poverty premium

Low-income families are also estimated to be paying £430 a year more for essential goods and services.

Other worrying stats

  • A third of households living in fuel poverty are ineligible for government cost-of-living help
  • 13% of UK adults are going without electricity or gas at least once a month
  • Borrowers paid £184m a day in interest during August

A difficult scene

Chief executive of the Money Charity Michelle Highman said:

“This month’s statistics make for some very sober reading… With so many people of all ages even struggling to cover the costs of just their essentials, it’s a difficult scene to face up to…

“We believe we need to see more; more healthy and sustained economic growth, more effective and targeted assistance to those who most need it, plus more improvements in the financial landscape, focused on improving outcomes for and treatment of UK consumers.”

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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