The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a research group that looks into poverty, aging and society in the UK, have said that the average family of four now needs an annual income of £36,800 in order to live what they consider a ‘decent lifestyle’. This is up £10,000 pounds, or about a third, since 2008, an absolutely astounding figure.
The amount is calculated by taking into account all the different payments that the average family will have to keep on top of, including providing for children, paying bills, repaying mortgages (or paying rent) and everyday things like food and petrol.
There are a few big contributing factors to the sharp rise. One of the biggest is the increasing cost of petrol, which has resulted in families who need to run a car, whether it’s to get to work, do the school run, do their shopping or anything else, seeing a huge increase in their monthly outgoings.
Childcare is another big factor, with costs increasing at the same time as more families find that both parents need to work in order to bring in enough money to cover expenditure. The removal of tax credits for many families has also made a big difference in this area.
Of course, it’s not just rising costs that have resulted in this situation; people’s expectations have gone up too. Families now see a computer as an essential item, for instance.
However, the role of spending cuts across the country by both public and private bodies, along with prices for everyday goods increasing disproportionately to people’s incomes, can’t be ignored.
Julia Unwin, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Chief Executive, believes that it’s a range of factors all playing their parts: ‘This year’s research shows that a dangerous cocktail of service cuts and stagnating incomes are being keenly felt by parents.’
The future is unclear for family budgets with so much uncertainty still present, but reports like this give a clear indication of the worsening situation.