Money worries are keeping a third of parents awake

A third of parents are having sleepless nights because they are worried about money – and 29% are rowing over their family’s finances.

That’s according to a new report called Families and the credit crunch 2008, released today by the Family and Parenting Institute, which is based on a YouGov survey of over 5,000 parents from across the UK.

The survey also found that:

  • one in four parents said their household income is not enough to pay the bills each month
  • 27% of parents said they think they will not be able to pay the bills in six months time (see cutting costs fact file at end for more detail)
  • one in 10 parents fear the main bread winner will be made redundant in the next six months
  • three quarters of mums and dads have debts in the shape of credit cards, loans and overdrafts – and the average debt is £8,400
  • the costs that are causing most concern to parents are heating, paying the rent or mortgage and food (47%, 36% and 31% respectively).

The report comes ahead of the charity’s Parent Child 2008 conference which takes place on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 November 2008.

Speaking at the conference tomorrow Mary MacLeod, Chief Executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, will tell of parents’ daily struggle to put food on the table and keep their children warm and the effect it can have on family relationships.

“Families up and down the country are finding it hard to balance their budgets. Many also have a heavy burden of debt. Parents say they feel under stress as they struggle to clothe and feed the children and find money for school trips yet need to cut back to manage within their income. This can put a big strain on relationships. Even more of a strain is the pervasive fear that they will be out of work or even lose their home,” said Mary MacLeod.

“I am pleased the Prime Minister has said the Government will do what it can to help families and I hope our report shows where the support is needed.”

The survey also found that approximately one in 28 (3.6%) parents with mortgages said it was very or fairly likely that their home would be repossessed in the next 12 months.

While the current credit crisis is fuelling financial fears for some families, for others it is nothing new. Many parents reported a sense of ‘welcome to my world’ and as one parent put it “it’s not the ‘credit crunch’ that’s causing any of this – it’s been like it for years but society in general wasn’t being affected – so who cared?”

But not all was doom and gloom. Some parents said that tax credits are easing the strain on their finances.

Britain’s parents aren’t just indebted to the banks and credit companies – a quarter have borrowed money or been given it from their parents in the last year.

Parents said childcare was a particular drain on their finances. Half of parents look to their own mum and dad for child minding duties– with 17% making it a regular arrangement.

Added Mary: “We are not just talking about whether parents can afford to take their kids on holidays or out for day trips; for many families those days are long gone,

“Thrift is definitely back with parents telling us they are budgeting carefully, seeking out the bargain bin in the supermarket, driving less and buying second hand clothes.”

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