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Parents struggling to afford Christmas presents for their children due to financial pressures 

  • New polling data shows that one in ten will cut back on food for the rest of winter to afford presents for their children, while nearly a quarter of parents will have to use a credit card

More than 2 in 5 (41%) UK adults are worried about the cost of Christmas, according to new polling published today by Save the Children, with almost a third saying it will be harder to afford the kind of Christmas they usually have.

Of these, nearly two-thirds (62%) are planning to cut back on Christmas presents due to financial pressures and a third (33%) will cut back on Christmas dinner, while almost a third (31%) will see fewer family and friends as a result.

Christmas can often be a particularly stressful time for families on low incomes and Save the Children is warning that this year will be particularly difficult, since parents are struggling with the rising cost of living and, in many cases, with the impact of the £20 cut to Universal Credit.

Parents who cited concerns about being able to afford Christmas presents for their children this year said they would have to make the following compromises in order to afford their children’s presents:

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) said they would have to use a credit card
  • Almost 1 in 6 (16%) said they’ll have to keep the heating off when it’s cold
  • More than 1 in 10 (12%) will have to sell or pawn something
  • More than 1 in 10 (12%) will have to cut back on food for the rest of the winter

Rebecca, a single mother from Norfolk, said:

“I get my daughter two presents and for the rest I rely on the kindness of food banks and a friend. We just have a picnic on Christmas Day - that way I can cut costs. My child is very philosophical, she mainly wants love, but it’s hard. I also don’t get presents for friends and family except my nieces.”

Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact at Save the Children, said:

“We all want to create special memories with our loved ones this Christmas, particularly after all the stresses of the last few years.

“But the cost-of -living crisis combined with the cut to Universal Credit has left thousands of families struggling to afford even the basics, let alone their normal family Christmas.

“For many parents we work with, the painful reality of poverty is not being able to afford simple presents or treats for their children without taking on debt or cutting back on essentials like food and heating.

“It's not right that we live in a society where so many people are locked into choices like these. We’ve welcome measures by the government to help some families on low incomes keep more of their earnings, but such measures alone aren’t nearly enough. In 2022, we need more action from UK government to lift children and their parents out of poverty.”

In April 2020 Save the Children launched Emergency Response grants to support families living in poverty and impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These grants provide essential household items such as table and chairs, beds, pushchairs, supermarket vouchers to buy food, as well as a package of play & learning activities, toys and resources to support early learning at home. Since launching, Save the Children have distributed 8215 grants to families, supporting almost 18,000 children across the UK.

For more information on Save the Children, visit www.savethechildren.org.uk



  • OnePoll surveyed 2000 UK Adults who celebrate Christmas from 19th-23rd November 2021. The survey was conducted online via the OnePoll website, polling our panel members who are paid to participate in surveys. Respondents who celebrate Christmas were targeted using both personal profile data and screening questions in order to ensure the correct demographic was achieved. 

About Save the Children;

Save the Children exists to help every child reach their full potential. In the UK and around the world, we make sure children stay safe, healthy and keep learning, so they can become who they want to be. For more information visit www.savethechildren.org.uk