Soaring energy costs and rising food and fuel prices are set to put an extra burden on families’ budgets over the school holidays, which begin this week. More parents will be forced to turn to borrowing to make ends meet over the summer.
New online polling from StepChange Debt Charity shows that parents are feeling additional pressure this year as the school holidays approach, and are worried that they will fall into financial difficulty as they juggle paying for childcare, food, entertainment and holidays amid the cost of living crisis.
Over a third of parents (37%) with children aged 18 and under are worried that their finances will suffer during the school summer holidays due to additional cost pressures. This rises to nearly half (46%) of parents with primary school children (aged 5-11) and to over half (51%) of parents in receipt of Universal Credit.
Many parents are expecting to borrow more and use savings in order to afford essentials this summer. Around 1 in 5 parents (22%) will be using savings or other assets to pay for their everyday expenses. Parents on Universal Credit are more than twice as likely as other parents to use credit or ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes to cover their essential spending (28% versus 12% respectively).
The polling shows a significant number of parents also expect they will have to sell personal or household items to make ends meet this summer – 19% of all parents said they will do this, with this figure almost doubling for parents on Universal Credit (35%).
Price rises have meant fewer parents will take their children on holiday this year, with 16% of parents stating that they usually take their children away but will not be able to afford to this summer – this rises to 19% of parents with children aged 12-16 and almost a quarter (23%) of parents on Universal Credit.
The polling reveals how many parents rely on family and friends to look after their children. Almost a quarter of parents (23%) with young children aged 5-11 will be getting help with childcare from relatives and friends over the summer holidays.
StepChange is calling for ongoing support from Government to help those on the lowest incomes weather the storm as everyday costs continue to increase. This includes uprating benefits in line with inflation, pausing benefit deductions, and providing further targeted support to help with the energy price cap rise.
Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs at StepChange, said:
“While the school summer holidays can be a time to have fun and recharge for many families, the financial pressure to keep children entertained, put food on the table and cover childcare can be a real challenge for many parents, particularly for those on low incomes. This year parents have to contend with the added factor of rising inflation and huge increases in energy prices, which has already pushed household budgets to the limit.
“The Government’s cost of living support measures are welcome, and some families on the lowest incomes will have already received the first instalment of this support prior to the school holidays starting. However, the increase we’ve seen in the energy price cap so far has been unprecedented, and it’s now set to rise even higher in October than initially expected. Our research makes clear just how much families are struggling right now, with many parents expecting to borrow, go without or sell possessions to stay afloat over the next six weeks. Undoubtedly further interventions will be needed from Government to provide targeted support to those on the lowest incomes, and to prevent the risk of more people falling into problem debt over summer and beyond.”
Free, confidential debt advice is available 24/7 using StepChange’s online debt advice service at www.stepchange.org, or by telephone during opening hours on 0800 138 1111. Visit StepChange’s cost of living hub to find advice and guidance for coping with rising prices.
Notes to Editors
- All survey figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,658 adults of which 1,126 are UK parents of children aged 18 and under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th - 13th July 2022. The survey was carried out online. Figures are weighted to be representative of all UK adults (18+).
- A breakdown of regional polling data is available on request.