From energy bills to housing costs, a mixed picture of financial pressures on new parents in the UK

Recent research by Survation prepared for the National Childbirth Trust explored the financial concerns of new parents and the effects of the pressures they face. As well as finding high levels of concern among young parents about how they will meet the cost of rising energy bills, our research also reveals a picture of regional contrasts and differences across age groups in the financial pressures new parents encounter and how they deal with them while raising a family.

For example, while energy bills were ranked as the most pressing concern for the parents questioned taken as a whole, the cost of housing was overwhelmingly the biggest concern for parents aged 18 to 24 – 73% ranked it among their top two financial concerns since becoming a parent. For older age groups, the cost of housing was less pressing, coming second to energy bills for new parents aged over 25. However, the cost of energy does seem to affect young parents more severely: 79% of this group worried they might have to cut back on other essentials because of rising energy bills (compared to the 65% of respondents as a whole with this concern) and 71% had turned down or switched off their heating while at home in order to save on heating bills (compared to 57% as a whole).

There are also substantial regional differences in what new parents are worried about. Unsurprisingly, housing is a major financial concern in London, closely followed by childcare, with 61% and 58% of respondents naming these among their top two concerns respectively. The cost of housing was also shown to be an important factor for Londoners is other ways: 73% said they were worried they might have to cut back on other essentials in order to meet the rising cost of rent or mortgage payments (compared to the national average of 59%), and 43% said housing costs had meant that they had delayed or considered delaying starting a family until they owned a suitable home (compared to the national average of 33%).

By contrast, in Scotland energy bills are far and away the biggest concern for new parents, with 76% identifying this as their first or second priority, compared to the second biggest concern, food, that 53% named as their first or second priority. Scotland also stands out as a region with a markedly high number of people (71%) who have felt financial pressure to cut back on food relative to other regions (such as London, at 55%) and the country as a whole (65%). Another regional disparity in the ways new parents are adapting to cope with financial pressures can be seen in Wales: while 56% of London respondents and 62% nationally have been in a situation where they have felt the need to cut back on energy bills, this figure is 71% is Wales.

If there is a ‘cost of living crisis’ in Britain today, the findings from this survey show that its effects are impacting on different groups – such as new parents – in very different ways across age groups and regions.

Poll based on a sample of 1,006 UK parents of young children. Data was weighted to the profile of all UK parents, by age, sex, and region. Survation is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For the complete data tables, please click here.

– By Nicholas Barker

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