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Are your children worried about money?
New research has shown that most adults in the UK – in particular those who are parents and grandparents, believe the cost of living crisis is having a negative impact on childhood. Shockingly, over a third of children agree, and almost half of the children surveyed are worried about money and their family’s finances.
Upon revisiting their 2019 landmark report exploring childhood across three generations, charity Action For Children have revealed the top worries children are facing on the back of a global pandemic and a current, ever-growing cost of living crisis.
Almost one third of children (30%) are currently worried about money and whether their family have enough money to live comfortably. A vast number of children are concerned about ‘adult issues’, including family finances. Shockingly, among the children surveyed from low-income families, nearly half (47%) worry about family finances regularly.
In contrast, only 14% of children from high-income families face the same worries. There is a little optimism, however. 38% of children surveyed believe they will have a brighter future compared to their parents, despite the ongoing economic crisis.
The top three issues which worry children were found to be the Covid-19 pandemic (48%), too much pressure at school (46%) and poor mental health (41%). In fact, the percentage of children worried about their mental health is up from 29% in 2019 – a whopping increase of 12% in just 3 years.
Suzanna, 53, (mum), Marissa, 13, (daughter) and Daphne, 76, (grandmother) live in St.Ives, Cornwall. Marissa was supported by an Action for Children young carers service as she looks after her mum who suffers with back problems following a car accident.
“I’m 100 per cent sure that childhood is worse today than when I was young. Money is more of an issue now than it was back then – the price of housing, the cost of living, the wages where we live are so low.” Suzanna is very concerned about the energy price hike.
“Marissa is petrified by the war in Ukraine, she is frightened the fall-out will involve the rest of Europe and the frontline crisis will come to the UK.”
“Although some aspects of childhood are better today, it’ll be harder for me to get a job on the back of the pandemic. Being a girl can be terrifying, especially when you go out later in the day. I hear from my friends and the news about girls my age being followed… social media has brought a lot of things to light that makes it scary to go out.”
Climate change makes Marissa worried to the point that she often leaves the house with a bin bag to collect rubbish she finds. On the environment, she said: “With social media you can see what is happening, it’s really distressing, you feel alone, you feel like you are the only person who cares.”
Daphne believes the price of goods will make it harder for children to have a higher standard of living as it’s much easier to get into debt. “Costs are going up… there are more worries now about being able to afford a house. You have to leave the area you grew up in to get a job as there are no jobs for young people down here in the South-West.”
While Daphne thinks technological advantages have made it better for children who are well off, she thinks that for most young people, childhood is now more challenging. She adds: “There is nothing light-hearted about childhood nowadays. It was better when I was young, and we could play in the street. You can’t do that now.”
‘It is the fundamental responsibility of any government to make sure every generation of children has a better childhood and a brighter future than the last.
‘Day in, day out our frontline staff support children grappling to see how they fit into our complex world –navigating big issues including financial worries, climate change and the pandemic. Sadly, since we conducted our research, intensifying money worries and the war in Ukraine will leave children feeling the world is a gloomier place.
‘The likely fall-out of the Ukraine conflict with even higher energy bills and inflation rates not seen for a generation, is a double blow for low-income families, already locked in a crippling cost of living crisis. The pandemic also continues to hang heavy, and its impact will be felt long into children’s futures.
‘The government needs a clear plan to reduce child poverty and it can take immediate action to support those on the lowest incomes by making sure benefits keep pace with the soaring cost of living in the tough months ahead.’