The Cost of a Child in 2013

Post date: 
14 August 2013

This report shows parents struggled more than ever to provide a decent standard of living for their families in 2013. This is the second in a series of annual reports on the cost of bringing up a child in the UK. 

Key findings include:

  • It cost a minimum of £148,000 in total - around £160 per week - to bring up a child to age 18 and meet its minimum needs. (Figures averaged for a child across all ages and including childcare costs and housing.)
  • The minimum necessary cost for raising a child rose by 4 per cent in 2013, while the minimum wage rose by 1.8 per cent, average earnings by 1.5 per cent, benefits for families and children by just 1 per cent, and child benefit did not rise at all.
  • The value of both child benefit and child tax credit relative to the costs of raising a child decreased from 2012 to 2013. Many low-income families also saw cuts in housing support with the introduction of changes such as the ‘bedroom tax’ and benefit cap.
  • At the same time, working families had to contend with rapidly increasing childcare costs (which increased at 5.9% from 2012 to 2013) while many non-working families were required to pay council tax.
  • Minimum wage families faced a growing shortfall for the spending their children need. Families working full time on the national minimum wage had only 83 per cent (couples) and 87 per cent (lone parents) of the minimum income needed to support their families.
  • Families receiving out of work benefits faced even greater shortfalls of income. Couple families received only 58 per cent of the income required to cover minimum costs, while lone parents got 61 per cent.
  • The introduction of universal credit from October 2013 will have mixed results for families. However, for both couple and lone parents working full time on the minimum wage, the new system will still leave them some way short of an acceptable standard of living.
  • Families with children tended to fall lower down the income distribution and be at higher risk of poverty than those without. This is partly explained by the costs set out in this report. These additional costs hit families at the same time as ‘time costs’ and childcare costs prevent parents from earning more.

This research is co-funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation and draws on their Minimum Income Standards project.