Wednesday, 19 June 2024
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Wednesday, 19 June 2024

New research – 76% of parents worry how they will get by financially over winter

NEW research from Comic Relief found that three-quarters (76%) of UK parents are worried about how they will get by financially over winter as the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact millions across the country.

The survey, commissioned by Comic Relief earlier this month (November 2023) to understand the true impact of the economic crisis felt by parents in the UK, paints a deeply concerning picture of what reality will mean for many this winter with financial struggles, food insecurity, access to baby essentials, mental health and even the threat of homelessness causing widespread concern.

The research found that over the coming winter months, parents are worried about their ability to pay for their household bills (69%), Christmas presents (63%), their rent/mortgage (53%) and food (52%). Meanwhile, half (50%) of parents surveyed with a child under the age of one are worried about their ability to pay for essential baby items such as nappies and wipes.

In the previous month, 1 in 4 parents (24%) surveyed said they or someone in their household had smaller meals than usual or skipped meals altogether – rising to 37% of respondents when asked if this had happened at some point in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, 15% surveyed said they or someone in their household had been hungry but not eaten because they couldn’t afford or get access to food – increasing to a quarter (25%) when asked if this had happened in the past 12 months.

The research found that 1 in 10 (11%) surveyed said they or someone in their household did not eat for a whole day because they didn’t have enough food in the previous month. This figure doubled to 20% when asked if it had happened at some point in the past 12 months. It comes as almost a third (32%) of parents surveyed said they will need to seek help with access to food over the coming winter months.

The survey, carried out by Censuswide with 2,013 parents of children aged 16 and under, found that parents are not only sacrificing food. To make sure they can keep giving their children the essential items they need, parents surveyed are already sacrificing, or think they will soon need to give up, household products such as cleaning products (44%), toiletries (41%), warm clothes (37%), health and medical expenses (35%) and sanitary products (25%).

With budgets increasingly squeezed, many parents are turning to forms of borrowing and debt – which can be easy to get into, yet difficult to get out of – to help manage their finances. The research found that 1 in 5 (20%) parents say they are already relying on Buy Now Pay Later schemes for essential items and even more (27%) think they may have to resort to this over winter. Meanwhile, over a quarter (26%) of parents surveyed are already relying on credit cards for essential items and 28% say they may have to resort to this over winter.

While many parents are struggling, asking for help is not always easy. The top three things that would stop parents from seeking help with food and essential items this winter are the shame and embarrassment they would feel (34%), other people knowing that they can’t afford to support their family (28%), and their pride (26%).

Over a third (37%) of parents say they would not know where to go for help with food, while even more (47%) wouldn’t know where to turn for support with housing/accommodation and almost half (49%) wouldn’t know how to access essential items for their children such as baby food, nappies or clothes.

Other findings include:

  • Over a third (36%) of parents worry about the threat of homelessness due to the rising costs of living
  • Over half (55%) agree that their mental health has worsened since the start of the cost-of-living crisis
  • 43% of parents have received help from family or friends with essential items for their baby or child under the age of five
  • 3 in 5 (58%) parents said their disposable income has decreased during the cost-of-living crisis
  • Two-thirds (69%) of parents think there is not enough help for people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and being able to afford the essentials for their families

Comic Relief is running an urgent Winter Survival Appeal to raise funds to support vulnerable individuals, children, young people, and families facing the toughest of times this winter. The appeal will support projects across the country tackling everything from hunger to homelessness, whilst also funding baby banks, safe spaces and supportive initiatives for vulnerable groups.

Samir Patel, CEO of Comic Relief, said:

“The survey results paint a devastating picture of what is to come for millions of families this winter. Families are in crisis across the country struggling financially, and burdened with worries of access to food, baby essentials, how to keep paying their bills and keep a roof over their heads. The effects of the cost-of-living crisis haven’t gone away, if anything, they’ve got worse. As the pressure continues to mount, it’s never felt more urgent to come together and do what we can to help those who are most vulnerable and need our support to make it through the next few months.”

One of the charities supported by the appeal is St Michael’s Fellowship in south London, which provides vulnerable families with a wide range of support which can include budgeting advice, emotional support, and help with accommodation and furnishings.

Sue Pettigrew OBE, Director at St Michael’s Fellowship, said:

“We are so aware of the stress felt by parents who are struggling financially, made all the more poignant by the pending festivities, knowing that hard choices need to be made between for example a special treat for their children and a household bill. The stress has knock-on effects for the family such as parents not being so available to the children because of their worries. Supporting parents in whatever way we can with food parcels and gifts is so important at this time.”

You could help make a world of difference to a family at breaking point this winter. Donate today at: www.comicrelief.com/winter.

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