THE cost of raising a child has risen to more than £150,000 and is well beyond parents earning the minimum wage, according to a new report.
Figures from the Child Poverty Action Group suggest that a couple will pay out £153,679 from birth to age 18, an increase of almost eight per cent in the last two years.
Childcare costs, often the most expensive item paid for by families with small children, have increased by more than 40 per cent in the last six years while child benefit now meets less than 20 per cent of the cost.
The report, funded by the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says families working full-time in jobs paying the minimum wage face an 18 per cent shortfall when it comes to providing themselves with a basic standard of living.
It says the cost of providing a minimum standard of living has risen by more than a quarter since 2008 while average wages have grown by just nine per cent.
Katie Schmuecker, policy and research manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “With economic indicators beginning to point to recovery, we need to make sure families feel the benefit of growth following the lost ground of the downturn. Otherwise we risk seeing poor children becoming poor adults, which has enormous costs for their life chances and the public purse.
“The rising cost of a raising a family is forcing parents into making difficult decisions.
“This isn’t just about balancing the high cost of housing, childcare and energy: it includes a families’ need to be part of society, by being able to participate in things many take for granted, such as buying a small birthday present or taking the children swimming.
“We need to get to grips with the high cost of living and the low pay jobs market which traps parents in working poverty.”
Labour welcomed the report arguing it supports the party’s claim there is a “cost of living crisis” facing families that the Government has failed to address.
Meanwhile, a study by The Children’s Society and StepChange debt charity has revealed that 132,922 families in Yorkshire and the Humber – 20 per cent of the total of all the region’s families – are failing to keep up with household bills and loan repayments.
The stark findings mean an estimated 231,000 children in the region are living in families with problem debt.
Across Yorkshire and the Humber, struggling families owe a total of £562m in bills and loans, with an average of £4,229 owed by each household.
The area with the highest percentage of families in debt was Scarborough and Whitby – where 43 per cent of families owed a total of £19.6m.
Hull West and Hessle followed closely behind, with 34 per cent of families in problem debt.