Mums facing cost of living crisis already in debt

Child hold woman's hand at a table. She has her head in her hands and there is an open purse on the table with just a few pence spilling out of it.

 

Almost half of mums [49%] have debts ranging from one to 20 thousand pounds, with one in 10 carrying debts of over twenty thousand pounds, according to research from workingmums.co.uk which shows that 90% of working mums have not had a salary rise in line with inflation*.

The annual survey by workingmums.co.uk reveals the harsh financial times that mums are facing, some with significant debts. 51% of mums say that the cost of living is impacting upon their childcare decisions, with one in five mums (22%) paying up to £500 per week for childcare. One in four mums (24%) have seen their childcare costs increase significantly during the last few months.

As a result of the rise in the cost of living, together with debts that are mounting, 58% of mums are looking to change jobs, increase their hours or do an additional job to increase their earnings.

Living life on credit

Spokesperson for workingmums.co.uk, Mandy Garner, says: “Our research shows just how many mums are living life on credit. Often this begins whilst on maternity leave as mums struggle to afford time off with their newborns and then continues as mums stretch their finances to cover extortionate childcare costs so they can afford to go back to work. Being in a cost of living crisis and heading towards the recession with a twenty thousand pound debt on your shoulders is a terrifying prospect for the one in 10 mums who are in this position.” 

She continues: “The vast majority of working mums haven’t received an inflation pay rise for years, which means they are effectively losing money each year. It’s a no-win situation for mums in this scenario, with costs going up, earnings going down and debts on top of this, they are trapped in a catch:22.”

Childcare struggles

The research shows that 68% of mums’ careers stalled after having children. Another 49% of mums say that the availability of childcare is affecting the hours they work and the roles they can do, which drops to just 23% comparatively for partners’ hours and what jobs they can do. One childcare support that is suffering is after-school and holiday clubs, which 14% of mums feel haven’t yet recovered from Covid, which leaves them working shorter days as they struggle to fit work around school hours and term dates.

To combat rising costs, mums have reported cutting back on buying clothes, eating out and buying branded foods, but 7% of mums have needed to visit food banks this year.

Michelle, aged 52, is a single mum, desperately trying to find a solution to her financial troubles. “The debts are escalating, and I can’t get on top of it; I just don’t know when it will end. I won’t be able to afford to put the heating on this year but my daughter, who works from home, will suffer. I haven’t done a big food shop for months; I can’t take the risk. I just buy essentials and often skip meals. I have debt collectors calling me and I owe over £10k in tax credits. It’s a terrifying time, and I just don’t know when it will all stop.”

Part time workers penalised

For part-time workers the pressure is about to increase, following an announcement from the Chancellor that part-time workers will be penalised if they do not increase their hours.

Garner explains: “For many mums, childcare is a luxury, and they work jobs around their children and rely on credit to make ends meet. Increasing their hours isn’t possible if you don’t have childcare support. What the Chancellor is proposing will only push the mums who need support the most into more debt and more worry. It’s time the government lifted mums out of this never-ending cycle.”

*59% have had no pay rise this year while 31% have had a pay rise that is below inflation.


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