Child-raising costs up 4%
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Finance, Housing
Child asylum seekers 'denied food and medicine' by UK Border Agency
The cost of raising a child has risen by 4% in the last year, new findings have revealed.
The Child Poverty Action Group's research, co-funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, shows that it now costs a minimum of £148,000 to bring up a child to age 18 and meet their minimum needs, which is around £160 a week.
While the minimum necessary cost for raising a child rose by 4% in 2013, safety net benefits for families and children only rose by 1%, the minimum wage rose by 1.8%, average earnings rose by 1.5%, and child benefit did not rise at all.
And the value of both child benefit and child tax credit relative to the costs of raising a child has decreased in the last year. Many low-income families have also seen cuts in housing support with the introduction of changes such as the bedroom tax.
At the same time, working families have had to contend with rapidly increasing childcare costs - up 5.9% in the last year - while many non-working families are now required to pay council tax.
Alison Garnham, CPAG chief executive, said: “This research paints a stark picture of families being squeezed by rising prices and stagnant wages, yet receiving ever-diminishing support from the government over the course of the last year.
“Every parent knows it’s getting harder to pay for the essentials their children need, and they don’t feel like politicians see them as a priority. Child benefit and child tax credit have been cut at the very time families need them most. Families are getting worse off and parents know it.
“If every child in Britain can grow up healthy, well-educated and an active participant in their community, we all benefit from a more prosperous economy. This was well understood by the post-war generation who prioritised universal benefits for all children despite being much deeper in debt than we are today.
“As we move towards a ‘living standards election’, now would be a good time to renew our national commitment to all our children.”
Katie Schmuecker, policy and research manager at Joseph Rowntree, added: “Flat lining wages, cuts to benefits and tax credits and the rising cost of essentials is creating a growing gap between income and needs.
“The next election is likely to be the first since the 1930s where living standards are lower than the last poll. All parties must go to the country with policies and a commitment to help the prospects of low-income families.
“The risk and costs otherwise are enormous. Child poverty costs the Treasury £29 billion a year – a price we can scarcely afford to pay, particularly in the current economic context.”