THE rising cost of raising a child is set to put struggling families under even more financial pressures, according to organisations in Burton and South Derbyshire.
New figures show the cost of bringing up a child now stands at a staggering £148,105 – an amount which has risen four per cent in the last year alone.
The alarming statistics, which translates to £160 a week between birth and the age of 18, is said to be the minimum amount needed to cover food, clothing, heating and other essential expenses.
Following the announcement, made by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), local organisations expressed concern that the increase could place people in dire financial straits, as those on low incomes face a severe shortfall when the required amount is compared to their income.
Kim Smith, who runs Winshill Resource Centre, said: “It will hit hard in this area.
“It’s not just families on benefits who are struggling at the moment, it’s people that are working. It’s going to have an impact on everything.”
She added she thought it would increase the amount of people heading to the centre seeking help, but urged those in need not to be afraid to look for support from organisations such as the one in Winshill.
CPAG figures show the rise in costs had overtaken the rise in benefits and wages significantly, leaving people with a shortfall of a sometimes considerable amount.
While the cost of raising a child has gone up by four per cent, benefits for families and children have risen by just one per cent, the minimum wage by 1.8 per cent and average earnings by 1.5 per cent. The amount of money paid out in child benefit has not increased at all in that time.
Changes to benefits, including the introduction of the bedroom tax, alterations to council tax benefit and the impending introduction of universal credit this autumn, have left families facing even more of a squeeze.
Childcare costs have also risen, by an average of 5.9 per cent.
CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said: “This research paints a stark picture of families being squeezed by rising prices and stagnant wages, yet receiving ever-diminishing support from the Government over the course of the last year.
“Every parent knows it’s getting harder to pay for the essentials their children need, and they don’t feel like politicians see them as a priority.
“Child benefit and child tax credit have been cut at the very time families need them most. Families are getting worse off and parents know it.”
The picture is even bleaker for single-parent families, with the cost hiked up more than £10,000.
According to CPAG’s figures, lone parents pay out an eye-watering £161,260 bringing up their child.
Families with two parents working full time and earning the minimum wage earn just 83 per cent of the minimum income needed to support their families. Lone parents earn 87 per cent of the amount.
Those on benefits face even further shortfalls, with two-parent families receiving just 58 per cent of the amount, and lone parents 61 per cent.
These estimates are based on a minimum income standards project run by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and have led to both organisations calling for more support from the Government for low-income families.
Ms Smith, who has been a lone parent, said: “At times you’ve not even got enough to get fed. You feed your kids but you’re not eating properly yourself. With these costs and benefits being cut, it’s all going to have a massive impact.”
The manager of South Derbyshire Citizens Advice Bureau, Dave Symcox, agreed the news would affect a large number of families.
He said: “It’s one of a series of pressures that families are facing. In itself it’s something that is quite difficult for families to deal with, and something that has crept up. It’s not something that people are noting down.
“Without reports like this families are just not aware of the amount, and when it creeps up on you it can be a real issue.
“What we recommend at the CAB is budgeting. It’s the only way this will be dealt with in future.”
However, Mr Symcox acknowledged some would still suffer a shortfall, and urged people to use services offered by the organisation to seek help and tackle money issues.