Parents have less time to read, play, and cook healthy meals with their children as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, according to a new poll.
Unicef UK said that many parents are working more, with a significant proportion saying their finances are “stretched to the limit”.
Families are cutting back on activities, sport clubs and reducing spending on books, toys and crafting materials, according to a poll conducted on 2,661 British parents of children aged four and under.
The survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the children’s charity, found that:
– 30% of parents reported working more hours in the past year due to increased financial pressures, with 37% having less time with their children.
– 71% of parents said their family budget is “stretched to the limit” with 56% reporting cutting back on playgroups and sporting activities and half cutting back on books, toys and crafts.
– Seven in 10 (71%) said they feel it is harder being a parent now compared to their parents’ generation due to the rising cost of living, spending less time with their children and a lack of childcare.
– Almost four in five (78%) said that the cost-of-living crisis had negatively impacted their family life. This rose to 94% among the poorest families surveyed.
– Half (50%) said that they cannot afford to give their children the life they want to.
The poll, released to highlight Unicef’s Early Moments Matter campaign, also found 61% reported that they have struggled with their mental health since becoming a parent.
“Previously people could survive on one household income, now we have two and it is barely enough,” one parent told the charity.
Jon Sparkes chief executive of Unicef UK, said “This lack of support for families falls at a critical stage in babies and young children’s development, threatening life chances and piling more and more pressure on families.
“These findings provide a stark snapshot into the reality for many families with babies and young children right now – worried for their children’s future, struggling to make ends meet and left feeling anxious, alone, and unsupported.”
He added: “The fact that it’s the most disadvantaged families who are struggling more and who are least likely to have accessed support, means we risk cementing inequalities in children’s lives before they’ve even picked up a pencil.
“The UK Government’s Start for Life initiative seeks to improve support for babies and young children, but its funding does little to address the growing shortfalls in essential services. Urgent Government action is needed to address the gaps to stop families slipping through the net and to safeguard our babies and children’s futures.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We appreciate the pressures that families have faced in recent years from the cost of living and inflation.
“This government is determined to help parents, rolling out the single biggest investment in childcare in England ever, expanding 30 free hours of childcare for working parents which will save eligible working parents up to an average of £6,500 per year.
“To further support parents, we are bearing down on inflation and providing record financial support worth an average £3,300 per household.
“We also are expanding and transforming mental health services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan and our Online Safety Bill will make the UK the safest place in the world to be a child online.”