Many parents of young children will be in greater debt after pandemic – report

More than half of parents with young children expect to be in greater debt after the coronavirus crisis ends, a new study suggests.

A similar number say they are worried about how they will pay their rent or mortgage.

More than one in two parents of young children expect to be in greater debt, with many mothers of under-11-year-olds reporting high levels of anxiety, a report said.

Research among almost 1,800 adults by carried out by gender equality charity the Fawcett Society, the Women’s Budget Group, academic experts from the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London and the London School of Economics (LSE) suggested that half of parents with young children will struggle to make ends meet in the next three months, and 57% face higher levels of debt after the crisis.

Fawcett Society chief executive Sam Smethers said: “The impact of this crisis on our wellbeing is significant and profound, but women are hit harder than men in terms of their financial security and mental wellbeing.

“Parents of young children and key workers are experiencing anxiety about the virus, huge money worries and work pressures.

“The Government needs to step in to provide additional financial support for parents and ensure decent pay and conditions for key workers too, who themselves are also more likely to be parents.

“A significant increase in child benefit of £50 per week per child and setting pay for all key workers at real living wage levels would make a real difference.”

Mary-Ann Stephenson, director of the Women’s Budget Group added: “Covid-19 has magnified existing inequalities. Before this crisis women were more likely to be low paid, more likely to be poor and more likely to get into debt to buy basic necessities.

“Many of the workers on which we now depend are low paid, on insecure contracts and only entitled to statutory sick pay.

“The Government has shown unprecedented agility within the social security system so far, but it needs to do more to meet urgent needs in the short term and to make sure that this crisis doesn’t further widen pre-existing inequalities.”

Marsha de Cordova, shadow women and equalities secretary, said: “Today’s findings show the immense pressure that women are under during this Covid-19 crisis – at home with their families and in the workforce.

“This crisis has exposed and amplified the underlying economic and social injustices faced by women.

“The Government must address the inequalities facing women in the workforce and fix our broken social security system to ensure that no woman is forgotten or left behind.”

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