Families left fragile by austerity

Financial pressures are increasingly spilling over into family life and putting relationships under strain, according to a new report.

A small-scale study examined the lived experience of families (over a range of incomes) against a backdrop of austerity. It looked at the various impacts of austerity on family life, and what matters to families and supports them – with a particular focus on family finances and well-being. In addition, an Ipsos MORI poll of over 1,000 parents explored the ways financial pressures are affecting family life.

Key findings

  • 79 per cent of parents polled were concerned about their ability to find the money to pay for an unexpected major expense in the future.
  • 60 per cent of parents polled had experienced increased levels of stress and anxiety as a result of changes in their financial circumstances. 33 per cent suggested that financial changes had resulted in relational problems with family and friends.
  • Borrowing from family and friends or using high-cost credit (payday and doorstep loan companies) is a common strategy in the 11 families whose circumstances were studied in more detail.
  • Despite valuing formal childcare highly, the families commonly find it unaffordable and inflexible.
  • Low-income dual-earning couples are more likely to do 'tag-team' parenting as a result of working different shift patterns, which in turn places stress on their relationship.

Source: Suzanne Hall and Chris Perry, Family Matters: Understanding Families in an Age of Austerity, Family and Childcare Trust (formerly Family and Parenting Institute/Daycare Trust)
LinksReport | FCT press release | Ipsos MORI press release | Nursery World report