Nearly three quarters of UK families say they are ‘on the edge’ of surviving, with one in five mothers missing meals so their children can eat, according to a survey by Netmums.
The parenting website surveyed 2000 of its members this month to investigate how the economic downturn was affecting families around the UK.
It revealed 70% said they were living on the edge, with one change – such as child care costs going up or child tax credits going down – pushing them into hardship.
A quarter of families are living on credit cards, the survey found, while two thirds said they had less money coming in to their household than at the same point last year.
The survey also found that 16% of parents are currently being treated for a stress-related illness due to money problems, while 15% of families said they were ‘desperate’.
One children and families social worker also told Community Care she had noticed an increase in the number of families struggling to cope because of finanical worries.
“These are difficult times and I’m certainly seeing families who are increasingly stressed about their ability to provide for their children. It is worrying what might happen to children if families become overwhelmed but we’re trying to work with families and support them.
It’s not helpful that frontline social work resources are also stretched though.”
Anne Longfield OBE, chief executive of the charity 4Children, said the survey showed “how deep the government’s austerity measures and the unemployment crisis are biting into the everyday lives of millions of ordinary families”.
She likened the problems to a ticking time bomb and warned the government to act fast.
“Unless the government takes immediate action to ensure that struggling families have the support they need and, in the long term, step up their efforts to stimulate growth in the economy and increase jobs, they will be allowing a ticking time bomb to go off, with untold consequences for family life in Britain.”
The survey follows warnings from campaigners that the government’s welfare reforms will push tens of thousands of children into poverty.
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