Lowest-paid parents ‘can’t afford basic lifestyle’
Low-earning parents working full-time are still unable to earn enough to provide their family with a basic, no-frills lifestyle, research has found.
A couple on the National Living Wage with two children would be £49 a week short of the income needed, according to the Child Poverty Action Group.
For a single parent it was worse, with them £74 a week short of the minimum income needed, the charity said.
The National Living Wage is currently £7.83 an hour for those aged over 25.
The government said fewer families were living in absolute poverty.
“The employment rate is at a near-record high and the National Living Wage has delivered the highest pay increase for the lowest paid in 20 years, worth £2,000 extra per year for a full-time worker,” she added.
But Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said gains from modest increases in wages had been “clawed back” through the freezing of tax credits.
Rising prices and changes to various benefit schemes had also “hit family budgets hard”, it said.
The charity’s Cost of a Child report, however, showed an improvement on last year when couples were £59 per week short of the income needed for a minimum standard of living.
The overall cost for a couple raising a first child until they are 18 also fell from £155,100 to £150,800, according to the report which is based on research from Loughborough University.
It calculates the income required for a minimum standard of living based on essentials such as food, clothes and accommodation as well as other costs required to take part in society.
The cost of bringing up children was heavily influenced by childcare, with full-time childcare accounting for almost half the total sum.
What is the National Living Wage?
The National Living Wage was introduced by then Chancellor George Osborne in his Budget in July 2015.
It came into effect in April 2016, and is currently £7.83 an hour for workers aged 25 and over, with the aim of increasing it to £9 an hour by 2020.
CPAG’s chief executive Alison Garnham said there was “strong public support” for the government to top up the wages of low-paid parents.
She urged the government to use November’s Budget to “unfreeze benefits and restore work allowances”.
“Income from work alone is not sufficient to enable some to meet their families’ needs to escape poverty and the cost of a child is substantial,” she added.