The Cost of a Child in 2017

Category: Child poverty

21st August 2017

CPAG's Cost of a Child in 2017 report calculates the cost of raising a child in the UK based on the minimum income standard (MIS).

MIS is the income needed to give children an acceptable minimum living standard as defined by the public. It is calculated with reference to a basket of goods and services that the general public specifies as necessary to meet family needs. Years of austerity have reduced public expectations of what constitutes essential spending, but the report shows many families still face a big gap between what they need for a no-frills living standard and their income.

The report finds that inflation and the benefit freeze are making it more and more difficult for families. Between 2012 and 2019, benefits will have risen by just 3% while prices are projected to have risen by 12%.

  • The basic cost of a child from birth to age 18, excluding housing, childcare and council tax, is £75,436 for a couple family, and £102,627 for a lone-parent family.
  • Couples who both work full time on the 'national living wage' are 13% short of the income needed to give their children a minimum living standard* (compared with 12% last year).
  • Lone parents are 18% short when working full time on the 'national living wage', and 14% short when working full time for the median wage*.
  • In non-working households, couple families are 42% short, and lone parents are 40% short*.
  • For families receiving maximum benefits, the overall benefit package now falls 31% short of covering the cost to a lone parent of bringing up a child - up from 22% in 2012. For couples, the shortfall is only 6%, an increase in the shortfall since last year but a decrease since 2012.
  • The cost of raising children is rising but, for the first time in decades, support for families is not keeping pace.
  • The report highlights the growing importance of childcare and housing costs in determining whether families can cover all the essentials.

*Calculations based on a family with two children aged 3 and 7, after subtracting rent, childcare and council tax.

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