Families struggle to cope with rising childcare costs

The cost of bringing up a child has risen to £148,000 leaving families struggling to cope, according to research from the Child Poverty Action G…

The cost of bringing up a child has risen to £148,000 leaving families struggling to cope, according to research from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

As parents face back-to-school costs, the study, which was co-funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, reveals parents are set to find it difficult to provide a decent standard of living for their children in 2013.

It now costs a minimum total of £148,000 to bring up a child to 18 years of age and meet their basic needs – equating to around £160 a week.

The minimum necessary cost for raising a child rose by four per cent in 2013, while safety net benefits for families and children only rose by one per cent, the minimum wage only increased by 1.8 per cent and average earnings went up by 1.5 per cent. Meanwhile, child benefit did not rise at all.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of CPAG, said: "This research paints a stark picture of families being squeezed by rising prices and stagnant wages, yet receiving ever-diminishing support from the government over the course of the last year."

The value of both child benefit and child tax credit relative to the expenses associated with raising a youngster has decreased over the last year, while many low income families have also seen cuts in housing support.

Childcare costs have also soared by 5.9 per cent over the last 12 months, while several non-working families are now required to pay council tax.

Some of the worst hit will be those working full time for minimum wage and this group has been facing a growing shortfall for the spending their children need. Couples in this category now have only 83 per cent of the minimum income needed to support their families, while single parents have just 87 per cent.

Katie Schmuecker, policy and research manager at Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "The task of making ends meet for families with children has always been hard, but is getting harder."

By James Francis

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