4Children launches report into Britain's Families

26 January 2016
Two thirds of parents (66%)* are not feeling the benefit since the start of Britain’s economic recovery three years ago, a new poll reveals. Almost 4 in 10 parents with children 18 or under (38%) say their family finances have actually got worse since.

In further news that families across the country are only just surviving, almost half of parents (44%) say their family finances ‘could not cope’ with the cost of replacing a broken boiler as the cold weather hits this winter.

This comes as children’s charity 4Children releases the findings of an inquiry Britain’s Families: Thriving or Surviving? looking at the daily lives of Britain’s families in 2016.

It is clear that parents’ efforts to make ends meet are taking their toll on family time:
  • Over 1 in 4 working parents (26%) say they are missing out on family activities every weekend because of work commitments
  • Almost half (46%) of mums say they are losing sleep over money worries
  • Almost 4 in 10 dads (38%) miss dinner time at least once a week because of work

And when asked about the sort of parent they think they are versus the sort of parents they would like to be, many feel they are falling short as a result of work and other pressures. Being a reliable parent was the number one priority for Britain’s mums and dads.
Commenting on the news, 4Children’s Chief Executive Imelda Redmond CBE said:

Too many of Britain’s families are struggling to make ends meet, even as the wider economy is improving.
"We’ve spoken to hundreds of families as part of our inquiry into Britain’s families in 2016. The message from them was clear: they’re working hard to make ends meet but quality family time is suffering as a result. They’re torn between working longer hours to provide more for their families and spending quality time together.
“Mums and dads feel like they’re playing snakes and ladders, with many only one unexpected bill away from a crisis. And as our polling shows, a broken boiler this winter could push many over the edge financially.
“We need to see better family friendly working conditions, especially for dads who are often missing out - and incomes need to match the real cost of raising a family.

Concerns for the next generation

4Children also surveyed parents about their expectations for their children’s futures as part of the inquiry. The findings reveal the full extent of British parents’ concerns.
When questioned about which key milestones parents of 18s or unders thought their children would achieve by the age of 30:
  • Just half (50%) expected their child to have a job that pays a decent salary
  • A similar number (53%) expected their child to have found a job they enjoy
  • Just over one in four (28%) expected their child to be on the property ladder
  • Nearly four in ten (39%) expected their child to have married
  • Just over a third (35%) expected their children to have a child of their own

What young people say

The charity also spoke to hundreds of young people and carried out an additional, national poll to gain a deeper understanding of their daily habits, aspirations and concerns.

The survey results indicate young people’s difficulty in switching off from the media at the end of the day with one in four young electronic device owners (aged 16-24) spending more than an hour on their phone, tablet or other electronic device after they have gone to bed. For one in ten (10%), this rose beyond two hours on a typical night.

Further findings contradict widespread beliefs that young people are politically apathetic, with three quarters (75%) of young people saying that they would like more political education in schools.

The research also revealed a worrying lack of key life skills among young people with almost half of young people (49%) saying they wouldn’t know how to pay a gas or electric bill if they were living alone or with flatmates.
Redmond added:

Many of the young people we spoke to had concerns for their future. Most felt that schools do not sufficiently prepare them for adult life. From financial capability to political education and key life skills, we need to get better at preparing young people for the real world.
“Young people are growing up in a very different world to when their parents were young. Naturally parents worry and struggle to know how to help their children make the right choices. Parents, schools and other services need to work more closely together to ensure young people have the practical, as well as academic, knowledge they need to succeed in adult life.

- Ends -

Notes to editors

For further information or to request an interview, please contact
Ellie Gellard on 07969 437 066 or Ellie.Gellard@4children.org.uk
Julie Evans on 07825 546461 or Julie.Evans@4Children.org.uk
*66% based on 28% of parents feeling their family’s overall finances have not changed over the last 3 years, and 38% saying that their family’s overall finances have got a little/ a lot worse.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Sample size was 1,922 parents of children 18 and under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd December 2015 and 3rd January 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
16-24s: Total sample size was 1,180 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd December 2015 - 5th January 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 16-24).
4Children’s Inquiry – Britain’s families: thriving or surviving, can be found from 26th January 2016 here: http://www.4children.org.uk/Page/thriving-or-surviving
4Children is the national charity all about children and families. We have spearheaded a joined-up, integrated approach to children’s services and work with a wide range of partners around the country to ensure children and families have access to the services and support they need in their communities. We run Sure Start Children’s Centres as well as family and youth services across Britain. www.4Children.org.uk


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