Families need £36,800 just to get by
THE rising cost of living means working families with children now have to earn £36,800 a year to get by – up a third from 2008, according to a new report.
The study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found the soaring cost of childcare and transport, combined with cuts to tax credits, had hit families hard.
As a result, a family now needs to earn £5,000 more than it did in 2008 to have what the report called an “acceptable standard of living” which would allow them to “participate in society”. The rise is twice the rate of inflation.
The report found minimum costs for childcare have risen by nearly a third, with childminders outside London charging £2.70 an hour in 2008 and £3.50 an hour now.
Bus travel has doubled in price since the late 1990s which, combined with cuts to public transport, means families with children now deem a car as an essential for the first time.
Cuts to tax credits have cancelled out higher income tax thresholds, the report said.
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the JRF, said: “Families have a monumental task trying to earn enough to get by. Parents facing low wages and pressure on their working time have little prospect of finding the extra money they need to meet growing household expenses.
“This year’s research shows that a dangerous cocktail of service cuts and stagnating incomes are being keenly felt by parents.
“Many working people face the risk of sliding into poverty. It illustrates how anti-poverty measures are needed to address not just people’s incomes but also the costs that they face.”
According to the annual study, single people now need to earn £16,400 a year to reach an adequate standard of living, while the figure for a lone parent with one child is £23,900.
Pensioner couples need £231.48 a week, which is attainable providing they claim all the support to which they are entitled
The report found a quarter of the UK’s population live below minimum income standards – three million more than in 2008.
Households were found to be cutting down on gifts and were shopping around for deals and vouchers when eating out.
Donald Hirsch, co-author of the report, said: “People are being more modest in terms of what they think needs to be spent on participating in society, but this thrift has been outweighed by rising costs.
“Parents have not changed their view of most needs, including a nutritious diet and participation by children in activities vital for social inclusion. What has changed is the ability of many families to afford such essentials.”
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, added: “Every day at Shelter Scotland we see the hardship and misery faced by families and individuals struggling to pay for basics like food, heating and the roof over their head.
“As more people slip into poverty, the greater the risk of homelessness either through eviction or repossession of their home. We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of people needing our help. Last year we received 19,000 calls to our free national helpline, and that number is rising.
“The recession has hit the poor hardest, but the middle classes have not been left unscathed.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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