“Many families who were ‘just managing’ are likely to be plunged into poverty.”

The struggle many parents are having trying to pay household bills is continuing to get more difficult – and that is before the Cost of Living rises that are coming our way in 2022.

New research from Parenting across Scotland reveals that families are experiencing serious financial challenges.

Last year The Orkney News covered a similar report from Home Start Orkney which highlighted the physical and mental toll this can have on families.  “I would be lost without them, I really would.” Invaluable Work of Home-Start Orkney

1,004 parents in Scotland were surveyed by Ipsos Scotland for this latest poll.

A projected 6% rise in inflation, a 1.25% increase in National Insurance contributions and the higher energy price cap is likely to add over £1,000 to average household expenditure plunging thousands of families, who are already struggling to make ends meet, further into financial difficulties.

See also: Energy Rich: Fuel Poor

Commenting on the results of the survey Emma Roddick, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands said that the cost of living crisis will cause ‘ even greater difficulties to people across the Highlands and Islands, which have some of the highest fuel poverty rates and highest energy costs in the UK.”

Emma Roddick continued:

“It is not enough for Rishi Sunak to force a mandatory loan on people struggling to pay their energy bills – he also fails to give them the funds they need to survive this difficult time. As One Parent Families Scotland has noted, the most straightforward way for the UK Government to help people right now would be to increase social security benefits by 6% in April, instead of the planned 3.1% rise, to tackle the cost this energy crisis will have on the poorest in our society.

“While the UK Government refuses to do this and offers nothing except loans disguised as rebates, the Scottish Government is taking real action with a £290 million support package, including payments of £150 to households across Scotland – a tiny share of the powers we would have to transform our society if we were an independent country.”

The survey revealed that:

In November last year, almost half of parents (46%) in Scotland found it more difficult to afford their bills, and almost half (47%) of parents in Scotland were less able to save for the future compared to the same time a year before. In late 2021, when asked about what financial challenges they had experienced over the previous year.

• Almost half of parents in Scotland (46%) were finding it more difficult to afford their household bills, compared to the same time the previous year.
• 47% of parents Scotland had had to make reductions in the amount of money [they were] able to put aside or save for the future
• Around one in five parents in Scotland had experienced a reduction in earnings (22%) or working hours (18%) in the last year.

Those living in the most financially challenging circumstances were particularly vulnerable to experiencing these new financial challenges compared to more affluent families. In particular, a greater proportion of lone parents were experiencing difficulties compared to couples with dependent children.

Whereas some financial challenges have been faced consistently across all groups, reductions in benefits and falling into debt have affected the vulnerable groups much more than other groups.

Clare Simpson, Director of Parenting across Scotland said:

“It is really worrying that even before soaring energy bills, high cost of living increases and rising energy prices we’re facing now, families were finding it difficult to manage financially. It is concerning how widespread this is and means that many families who were ‘just managing’ are likely to be plunged into poverty.

“There is an urgent need for immediate targeted action from UK and Scottish Governments to ensure that families are protected from financial hardship. They need to put money in the pockets of the families who need it most; a rise in benefit levels in line with inflation would be the most effective way of doing this.”

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