In debt from here to maternity

New mothers are among the people likely to suffer from credit card debt, according to a new study.

Research by uSwitch found 28 per cent …

New mothers are among the people likely to suffer from credit card debt, according to a new study.

Research by uSwitch found 28 per cent of new mums end up in debt when they take maternity leave, with their average debts reaching £2,500.

While ten per cent go into debt by borrowing from their family, 14 per cent use credit cards or overdrafts to fund their baby-related expenses.

And the cost of starting a family does not just include forking out for cots and baby clothes, with the lower income from being on maternity leave being such a problem that 11 per cent cut this period short, while nine per cent reconsider a previous decision not to go back to work.

So hard is the situation for many that 23 per cent of couples are delaying starting a family because of the cost, while 39 per cent of parents with children do not want any more because of the expense involved.

Director of consumer policy at the price comparison site Ann Robinson said: “Planning for a baby is tough at the best of times, but in the face of the soaring cost of living there is even more pressure on family finances.

“For some families this can mean some very difficult decisions. It’s heartbreaking that so many mums are being forced into debt or having to cut short their maternity leave just to make ends meet.”

Parents getting into debt because of having a baby may find a debt management plan can help to ease the burden they face as they get used to the extra cost and all the other stresses and strains that come with being a new parent.

Despite the expense of having children, the actual number of children being born in the UK has risen recently.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the most recent year for which figures are available – 2010 – saw 807,000 live births, the highest tally since 1972.

Jacqueline Cohen, Group Marketing Manager at ClearDebt has blogged on this issue several times.  She comments: “This is an extremely important issue for debate. The financial pressure on young mums and dads when they have a new baby is enormous unless the dad earns enough to cover two average salaries – take home pay being around £3,000 – which in the current climate, for most families is unlikely.

And whilst new mums might borrow off family or credit cards to make ends meet during those first few months, when they return to work the situation only becomes harder as they struggle to pay back their debt in addition to childcare costs.

“I’m not at all surprised with the statistics released by uSwitch and just wish the government could take this issue seriously and look to do more to financially support these families during part if not all of the maternity period.”

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