Debt, housing costs and childcare are much greater pressures for UK families than elsewhere in Europe
Families face financial pressures in a variety of forms. Some households simply struggle to make ends meet, while others face difficulties with credit repayment. There are yet others for whom childcare and housing consume a large proportion of their income, leaving them with barely enough for other household expenses. Already having to get by on very tight budgets, many families are forced to grapple with rising energy prices and inflation, while the current deficit reduction plans are squeezing many household’s incomes. Taken together, these can put a tremendous strain on family finances, which can in turn affect family relationships and wellbeing.
Families in other EU countries face similar pressures. In seeking to understand how the nature and extent of financial pressures varies between countries we looked at six areas:
• Difficulty in making ends meet
• Childcare costs
• Housing costs
• Energy costs
• Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices.
Download the whole report.
Click here for Household Income - Top to bottom income four-to-one from the ONS published on 19 May 2010.
Money worries are a major source of argument and relationship conflict.
A 2006 survey for the FSA found that over a third (35%) of British couples are kept awake at night worrying about their money situation and over a quarter (27%) of couples regularly argue when they try to discuss their finances.
This chimes with a report for the Department of Trade and Industry in 2002, which found a clear link between friction in the household and the extent of financial difficulties being faced. A third (34%) of households in this study who were in financial difficulty said that money was a source of friction, compared to 14% of households with no financial difficulties at all. The most common consequence was stress or anxiety, experienced by about a quarter of those in financial difficulty. It also found that one in twelve households had experienced relationship problems as a result of financial difficulties. Kempson, E. (2002) Over-indebtedness in Britain: A report to the Department of Trade and Industry.
A more recent YouGov survey found that 10.7 million people suffer relationship problems because of money worries. Breakdown Britain, CSJ, p.19. Another report found ‘debt problems can bring about ill-health, relationship breakdown and loss of employment’ and bring ‘particularly distressing impacts on parents’ relationships with their children. Pascoe Pleasance, Alexy Buck, Nigel J Balmer and Kim Williams. “A Helping Hand: The impact of debt advice on people’s lives” Legal Services Research Centre Research Paper No. 15, 2007, i The Government’s Foresight Report into mental wellbeing suggested that debt is a much stronger risk factor for mental disorder than low income (p. 19).
A new study from The Institute for Fiscal Studies reveals the effects of the 'Great Recession' across OECD countries. The report is also quoted in The Guardian saying that 'families with children will be hit harder by Osborne's tax & benefit changes than other family types'.
A study University of Missouri, published in the Journal of Family & Economic Issues and reported in Science Daily here found (from a sample of 400 couples in Utah) that economic and social hardships can reduce overall happiness within marriages. Furthermore, low-income couples who receive government assistance, such as Medicaid or Food Stamps, are significantly less satisfied and committed in their marriages, though the data could not say why.