Childrens’ birthday parties putting a strain on budgets

Financial pressures mean nearly half (44 per cent) of parents in the UK cannot afford to give their children a birthday party, according to new report…

Financial pressures mean nearly half (44 per cent) of parents in the UK cannot afford to give their children a birthday party, according to a new report from Family Action.

The report, titled Birthdays on the Breadline, was compiled using data from national polling and focus groups and reveals many parents are breaking their budgets for their children’s birthday parties and are making large sacrifices in order to do so. For example, over a quarter (27 per cent) would go without new clothes for themselves or their children in order to pay for celebrations.

Families are compelled to spend on birthday parties as a result of increasing pressure to impress other parents, friends and family, as well as to compensate for their own memories of poverty in childhood. Parents want to do the best for their children but when they are lumbered with debt and are finding it difficult to make monthly payments this can become tricky.

A survey conducted by YouGov found 44 per cent of parents surveyed said that they cannot afford to give their children a birthday party and this increases to 51 per cent among lower income families. However, despite this 27 per cent of respondents said it was their duty to organise a party for their child, even if they cannot afford to.

Family Action carried out focus groups across its many services in England aiming to find out how the low income and disadvantaged families are coping with their budget planning for birthday celebrations. Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of these families have less than £100 a week to live on after outgoings such as rent, council taxes and utilities are paid for.

Astonishingly, 40 per cent said they spend at least £100 on the party, meaning the majority of the weekly budget is gone in an instant. A similar number (43 per cent) who have less than £100 a week to live on said they spend more than this on the party, eating away at the monthly budget even further.

Also of note was the fact these low income parents feel pressured into taking cakes and party bags into school for children’s classmates to celebrate their birthday, which leads to budgets being stretched further. The focus groups also revealed many parents attempt to protect their children from potential playground bullying by throwing a party they cannot necessarily afford.

Chief executive of Family Action David Holmes said: “Paying for children’s birthday parties is clearly a source of financial stress for many families, even before the costs of birthday presents are taken into account. This financial stress is magnified for low income families who may find they are spending the equivalent of a week’s living costs for the whole family on a party for a single child.”

People on low incomes are struggling to make ends meet in the current economic climate and those with children are finding it difficult to find the money to pay for their parties. This is further exacerbated when there is more than one child. Those who are paying off several debts to different companies could potentially benefit from taking out a debt consolidation loan in order to free up funds.

“If you then add in the additional financial pressures that low income families in particular are facing from low wage rises and the squeeze on welfare, paying for children’s parties is no cause for celebration,” Mr Holmes added.

By Amy White

Find out more about money management on the ClearDebt blog.

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