One in three parents plan to work more or avoid time off this Christmas, says charity

29th November, 2021 9:20 am

Almost a third of working parents are planning to take on extra work or avoid taking time off over the Christmas season to cover the costs, a charity has revealed.

Of those planning to work more, nine in 10 (90 per cent) expect they will have to miss out on at least one key family moment, such as waking up together on Christmas morning, unwrapping presents together or attending a school nativity play.

Action for Children surveyed 2,500 working parents and 1,000 children aged eight to 17 across the UK.

It found that more than three in 10 (31 per cent) of working parents said they are likely to give their children basic necessities as a Christmas present this year, such as school books, shoes or a coat.

More than a third (36 per cent) are planning to scale back celebrations and parties this year, while 29 per cent say they will save money on presents for their partner.

A quarter of those surveyed say they will spend less money on Christmas food and travelling to visit friends and family.

Nearly two in five (38 per cent) of parents who are on Universal Credit say they are likely to cut back on heating, with almost a third expecting to skip meals and a fifth expecting they will need to seek help from a food bank over the festive season, the survey found.

The report comes after consumer charity Citizens Advice found that one in 10 families in the UK, equivalent to around three million households, are unable to cover basic bills such as food or heating.

Citizens Advice called on the government to bring forward its standard inflation-matching uprating of benefits from April to December.

It calculated that the average family on universal credit could be better off by £30 a month if the government brought the uprating forward, and warned that without help, there would be a rise in the number of low-income families seeking help from its advisers.

Families are feeling a squeeze on their finances due to soaring energy bills due to a global shortage and rising inflation, as well as the withdrawal of the £20 universal credit uplift from early October.

The latest survey by Action on Children revealed that parents’ top five money worries this Christmas included the rising energy bills and inflation, as well as car fuel costs and affordable warm winter clothing for their family.

Children also appear to be feeling the weight of the festive season on their parents, as the survey found that 63 per cent of children thought their parents would be worried about making Christmas a happy time for the family.

More than half (53 per cent) said they would be concerned about keeping their family safe and healthy as the pandemic continues, and nearly half (49 per cent) said they would be anxious about making sure everyone has presents.

The charity highlighted the case of Natalia, a 35-year-old factory worker who lives with her one-year-old daughter in Norfolk.

Natalia, who claims Universal Credit, said: “I do everything I can to buy as cheap as possible and save costs wherever I can.

“I always pay the bills as soon as I’ve been paid but what’s left is so hard to spread over the month. Now I’ve lost £20 a week in Universal Credit – that’s such a lot of money to me.

“I’m really worried about the bills going up. I’m only turning on the heating in the living room now it’s got colder.”

Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said: “For most of us, the festive season is a happy time, but there are children all over the UK who face a very different Christmas.

“After almost two years of worry, isolation and poverty, many families are now at breaking point, struggling to afford basics like food, heating and clothes.”

Source: The Independent on

Categorised in: