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Households with children spend hundreds a month on lockdown extras

From childcare to food and entertainment, two-fifths of UK parents are spending more on kids during lockdown.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
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Posted 26 JUNE 2020

Parents are spending an average of £52 extra each week looking after their children during lockdown, data from comparethemarket.com’s latest Household Financial Confidence Tracker shows.

Additional costs for childcare, food and entertainment are taking their toll on family finances, with 40% of those with children at home spending more than they normally would.

Diminished income, higher costs

The average additional spend by households appears to be loosely dictated by child age – with weekly extras ranging from £53.61 for parents of those aged 18 and over, to £57.08 for those with children between 16 and 18. There are also regional variations, ranging from £23.54 extra a week in Yorkshire and the Humber to £83.53 in the North East.

Mark Gordon, director of money at comparethemarket.com, said: “Families with children at home have been one of the groups hit hardest financially by the lockdown. Many are caught between diminished income on one hand – having reduced hours voluntarily to care for their children or having seen their employment circumstances change for the worse – and higher costs on the other.

“Measures by the Government to cut taxes on essential goods will help, as will its commitment to extending free school meal vouchers throughout the summer holidays, but banks and financial services companies also need to continue to be flexible as many of their customers will be feeling the financial strain.”

Comparethremarket.com data shows that 40% of families with children expect to either be made redundant, or have to take a pay cut or reduced hours due to the pandemic – a total up by 3% on two weeks ago. In comparison, 26% of those without children say the same.

And although the proportion of families with children who struggled to pay their bills fell by 4% to 23% over the last seven days, this figure still dwarfs the 12% of those without children facing the same struggles.

Other anxieties slowly easing

While there was little week-on-week movement in the percentage of households not planning to hit the high street for non-essential shopping (59%, down from 60%), there are signs of returning confidence in other areas.

For the first time since comparethemarket.com’s Household Financial Confidence Tracker began, the proportion of people who would feel comfortable visiting cafés, bars and restaurants has risen substantially.

This week, 30% said they’d be happy to frequent such establishments in a safety-conscious manner, with just 52% (down from 56%) still feeling uncomfortable about the prospect.

Mark Gordon adds: “Despite reports of queues around the block for shops when they opened last week, households are still nervous to get back out and spend. The majority of people are still worried about retailers’ ability to keep them safe and socially distanced so, for now, we expect to see more people opt to shop online than hit the high street.

“With the hospitality industry poised to reopen in the next few weeks, pubs and restaurants will be nervously monitoring consumer comfort levels with being in public spaces. Our data suggests slightly more people would be happy ordering a pint in person than a few weeks ago, but we still have a long way to go before UK household behaviour returns to pre-lockdown levels.”

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