THE cost of raising a child from birth to 18 has reached a new high of almost £150,000, a new report has found.
The price of parenting has jumped by 5 per cent in recent years and there are fears that low-income families are struggling to give their children a decent standard of living.
The report by the Child Poverty Action Group, published today, lays bare the cost of feeding and clothing children.
For example, parents with two children – one of pre-school age and the other at primary school – would need to spend £103.25 per week for what would be regarded as essential and the most basic food.
An additional £47.94 would be required for clothing, £165.62 for childcare and a further £102.78 for what the report describes as social and cultural participation.
The cost of having children can be contrasted with the weekly budget of a couple of working age with no children.
Minus the commitment of feeding children, the couple’s food bill was £78.95. Spared the need to buy new outfits and school uniforms for growing children, the couple’s clothes bill was just £13.51 per week.
Excused the pressure of entertaining children by taking them to soft-play areas, expensive school trips and birthday parties, the amount devoted by the childless couple to social and cultural participation was £73.84 – almost £30 less than that spent by the family with children.
Faced with the results of the survey, the Child Poverty Action Group, warned that workers on the minimum wage are on the brink of a new crisis in family finances that will leave many stranded when it comes to meeting basic family costs.
Families with both parents working full time at the national minimum wage are 16 per cent short of the basic amount needed to provide themselves a minimum standard of living, according to the new report. For a couple with two children, it comes to a gap of £75.75 per week.
Reacting to the new figures, the director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, John Dickie, said: “It’s shocking that even when they are both working full time a couple with children on the current minimum wage are still left well short of what they need for no-frills basics, even when low inflation kept the costs of a child relatively flat last year.
“Over one in five children already lives in poverty in Scotland and the oncoming barrage of social security cuts will push the number higher – at greater cost to the taxpayer. We should be backing parents’ efforts to build a future for their children, not consigning them to financial misery”.
The Cost of a Child 2015 report finds the minimum cost of a child from birth to age 18 comes to £149,805 – a 1.6 per cent increase on 2014 and a 5 per cent increase since 2012.
The report concludes that the outlook appears to be for the high cost of a child to rise less steeply in future years but state support in covering these costs to deteriorate sharply as a result of UK government policies, creating a net loss for most low-income families.
The report shows a wider gap to meet basic family costs for out-of-work couple families – at 43 per cent.
For lone parents, the shortfall is 13 per cent for those in work.