The basic cost of raising a child to the age of 18 has risen to £75,436 for a couple, with family finances being hit as the government reduces the amount of financial support available.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) charity says this amount – which has risen by 3.9% in the last year – is needed to raise a child to a minimum living standard.
But this £75,436 figure does not take into account housing, childcare and council tax costs. When additional costs are considered, the average child costs £155,142 to raise from birth to age 18 for a two-parent family.
The figures are part of the Cost of a Child in 2017 report published by CPAG. It aims to highlight the growing costs of raising a family and show how years of austerity have drastically reduced the support available to parents.
Single parents face even higher costs than two parent families because it’s likely they have to shell out more on the likes of childcare given there’s not an additional parent to help look after the children. The basic cost of raising a child on your own is £102,627, a figure which rises to £187,120 when housing and additional costs are included.
A lone parent working full time on the government’s national living wage of £7.50 an hour will not be able to earn enough to pay for an acceptable standard of living for their child, according to CPAG.
Their income would be 18% short of the CPAG’s ‘no-frills’ living standard.
Both inflation and the reduction in child support from government have contributed to this growing shortfall, the charity says.
It estimates that between 2012 and 2019 the cost of raising a child will have risen by 12% while government support will have grown by 3%.
‘Cost increases are not being matched by increases in support’
Professor Donald Hirsch, who wrote the report, says the outlook for low income parents is tough.
“For the first time in post-war history, these cost increases are not being matched by increases in support given to families from the state,” he says.
“While this policy persists, the struggle that low-income families face to make ends meet will become steadily harder, especially because it is being combined with numerous other cuts including the benefit cap and the bedroom tax.
“These cuts are particularly painful for non-working families, who already have little over half what they need to cover family costs. For them, the “safety net” of means-tested support no longer merits this name, since it does not offer the safety of an income capable of covering essentials. Families unable to cover their costs on benefits are typically having to fall back on help from their families, run up large debts or undergo serious hardship."