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 Parents sacrificing essentials to ensure their children get through the summer holidays   

LONDON - August 10  The impact of the cost of living on children this summer is laid bare today as it’s revealed parents are making drastic cut-backs to get through the school holidays.  

Almost half of children in the UK are missing days out and treats and more than half are not getting their usual drinks and snacks when they’re out, polling by YouGov exclusively for Save The Children, has revealed.

The stress of affording childcare over the holiday is also being felt in households across the country with one in 10 parents who rely on childcare sacrificing essentials like their own food to afford it (13%).   

They survey found in some cases around half of parents  changed some of their usual summer routine due to the cost of living. 49% will be buying their children fewer treats this summer, 44% will have fewer days out, 55% will buy less food and drinks while out, and one in ten will have their children’s friends over less frequently. One in ten also said they will  not have them over at all.     

Becca Lyon, head of child poverty at Save The Children said: “All children deserve to have a fulfilling summer holiday with the chance to play, spend time with their friends and family and enjoy new experiences.  

“These findings show overwhelmingly the cost of living crisis is putting untold strain on parents over the summer break. It’s one thing struggling to afford trips and activities, but having to cut out meals to pay for much-needed childcare whilst facing other sky high costs is a big concern.” 

The survey also revealed:  

  • More than one in three UK parents who require childcare this summer (35%) are worried about their ability to afford it. 
  • Of parents who are worried about the cost of childcare, 89% of that group are worried because of the rising cost of living.
  • Just over one in ten (13%)of the parents we surveyed will have to sacrifice on essentials like food, rent, bills and clothing in order to afford childcare this summer.  30% say that the cost of childcare over the summer causes stress, 12% will be pushed into debt and for 31% of families it means they are unable to save any money.
  • 60% of parents we surveyed feel there are not enough low cost and free options for childcare over the summer for their family.

Mum Pippa Simons, 54, from Birmingham who has an 11-year-old daughter called Amy, said: “Cost of living is something you worry about all the time.”

“It’s horrific. It's just constant stress and worrying. I started worrying before she even broke up from school. And now I've also got the expensive school uniform because she starts seniors in September.” 

“My mom used to help out a lot, but she passed away last March. And I have noticed a difference and it is a lot more stressful. And trying to ask friends’ mums to help out, but you don't want to impose, but sometimes you have to because otherwise you've got nobody to look after your child.”

When asked if her daughter has picked up on her worries, Pippa said: “She's quite aware of what's going on. I try not to complain too much about money…I feel guilty that she’s picked up on it.”

To help families on the sharpest end weather the cost of living crisis, Save the Children  recommends that the UK government:  

  • provides a cash injection for families, boosting the child element of Universal Credit by £10 a week per child
  • puts an end to families getting an arbitrary amount in benefits payments that hasn’t kept up with the times, by scrapping the benefit cap (this disproportionately affects families who are already at the sharpest end of the cost of living crisis, like larger families and families where someone in the household has a disability). 
  • To make childcare easier for people on the lowest incomes, the government could families by paying childcare in Universal Credit upfront instead of in arrears. This would mean parents aren’t faced with getting into debt to be able to work. 


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1011 parents, of which 839 require childcare over the summer. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th - 27th July 2022.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

For more information contact: media@savethechildren.org.uk