Can you afford to have a child?

It's now more expensive than ever to have a child, which is putting a real strain on families. What more can be done?

Rebecca Goodman

Savings and ISAs

Rebecca Goodman
Updated on 7 September 2012

Children are expensive. It now costs £150 a week to raise a child to age 18, according to the Child Poverty Action Group. Throw in soaring child care costs and it’s easy to see why many parents are struggling.

Parents are now spending an average of 18% of their income on their kids, including childcare, holidays and education as well as necessities such as food and clothes, according to a report by Halifax.

Martin Ellis, economist at Halifax, told us: “The cost of raising a child until the age of 11 has increased by 15% over the past five years. This has added to the already considerable strain on household finances during the economic downturn.

“Childcare costs and education account for half of the total annual cost of raising a child. This is a substantial sum for most households."

Not only are parents facing high costs in raising children, they’re also being hit with rising inflation and cuts to Government benefits.

Child benefit and tax credits are available as soon as your baby is born but how much you can get depends on your individual circumstances. To find out if you’re eligible visit the Direct Gov website.

Tim Nichols of the Child Poverty Action Group highlighted that the costs of having children had risen at a time when salaries were stagnant, making things tougher, and warned that worse was still to come.

He said: "After a number of years of child poverty rates reducing, we're turning a corner. Child poverty is going to be rising by 100,000 more each year."

He also argued there was a wider benefit to keeping family support in place: "It's the lowest income families that are most likely to go out and spend any extra money in their local shops and services, which is just the stimulus that the economy needs, at the same time as helping families."

So, is the rising cost of kids putting people off starting a family?

One man told us: "Rising prices would put me off having a child. I wouldn’t want to bring a child into the world if I couldn’t offer all the best things for that child."

While another woman said: "I'd have to make sacrifices.My parents didn’t have much money when they raised me and if they can make it work surely I can."

What do you think? Would rising prices put you off starting a family, and if you have children already are you struggling? Let me know in the comment box below.

More on children:

Cheap and free ways to help your children learn

Make your baby a millionaire

Protect your kids from your money worries

How to claim your tax credits

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