The full extent of how children are suffering under Conservative austerity has been revealed. And it shows that, while the average cost of raising a child has spiralled to over £187,000 for a single parent, for the first time since WWII the government is failing to provide its most basic duty of care to them; meaning that some children are falling nearly 40% short of the most basic requirements for living.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has released its annual The Cost of a Child report [pdf]. And it said that, after a “short period of stability”, the price of raising a family is once again increasing. It found that:
- The “basic” cost [pdf p11] of raising one child (average cost of first and second child) is £75,436 for a couple or £102,627 for a lone parent. These are above-inflation increases [pdf p12] on 2016.
- If you factor in childcare costs, council tax and rent, this goes up [pdf p11] to £155,142 and £187,120 respectively.
- The cost [pdf p18] just for a first child to a lone parent is £205,764
The CPAG report also found that many parents’ incomes do not even cover the “basic” cost. Because after taking out childcare, council tax and rent, an unemployed couple only had enough money to cover 58% of the £75,436 CPAG says [pdf p11] it costs to raise a child:
CPAG was damning in its assessment of the Tories’ austerity-driven welfare cuts. Because it said:
For the first time in post-war history, these cost increases are not being matched by increases in support given to families from the state. While this policy persists, the struggle that low-income families face to make ends meet will become steadily harder.
But behind the CPAG figures are clear indicators that families which can least afford it are being hit the hardest.
Abandoning your child
CPAG found that, while the “basic” cost of raising a child for couples had fallen since 2012, it had increased [pdf p13] for lone parents by 16.2%. And while the full cost had increased [pdf p13] for both couples and lone parents (by 8.7% and 20.7% respectively), welfare payments are slowly covering less and less:
- Lone parents have been hit the hardest: child benefit and child tax credit now only cover [pdf p15] 69.2% of the “basic” child-rearing costs, a 9.1% fall since 2012. And if the lone parent is out of work, full benefits now only cover [pdf p15] 60.4% of the “basic” cost, a fall of 3% since 2012.
- A couple both on the ‘national living wage’ only earn [pdf p17] 86.8% of the “basic” cost of raising a child; for lone parents this figure is 81.5%.
On the Tories’ heads
But CPAG was clear where part of the blame for the spiralling cost of child-rearing lies. One of the report’s authors, Donald Hirsch, told The New Statesman that the government’s:
failure to uprate either benefits, tax credits or the wage levels at which tax credits are withdrawn means that inflation is bound to erode modest family incomes both in and out of work. The gradual fall in living standards that this produces will be worsened by other benefit cuts that come in over the next few years…
And he concluded that:
For those relying on benefits as a “safety net” when they are not working, the level of this net is being progressively lowered over time.
There comes a point when a “safety net” stops being worthy of its name because it is no longer enough to provide even the bare essentials of modern life. The evidence shows that when income sinks this low, most families can only escape severe material hardship either by going into debt or by getting help from extended family members.
The CPAG report comes amid food bank charities warning that thousands of children are going hungry over the holidays. But moreover, 3.9 million children (one in four) now live in poverty. And with summer childcare costs at record levels, the CPAG report paints yet another bleak picture for the future of children in the UK.
– Support CPAG.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?