Summertime means struggling families could skip meals warns Salvation Army

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New research shows that 43% of parents are worried the summer holidays will put them into financial difficulty warns The Salvation Army. In the South East of England, 37% of parents expressed this concern.

13% of parents reported being very worried they would not be able to afford essentials like food and utility bills, this drops to 10% in the South East of England

Of those parents who were worried, when asked what could push parents into financial difficulty:

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•             half of all ‘worried respondents’ (50%) cited the cost of school uniforms, rising to 58% in the South East*

A New Starters school uniform sale held by The Salvation Army recentlyA New Starters school uniform sale held by The Salvation Army recently
A New Starters school uniform sale held by The Salvation Army recently

•             3 in 10 (29%) of the same group said they are worried they won’t be able to afford food because they rely on free school meals during term time.  In the South East of England this figure is 26%*.

21% of 'worried parents' in the South East of England* were also concerned that taking unpaid leave would put them into financial difficulty. This compares to 17% of worried parents in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, those on the lowest incomes (less than £14,999 pa*) were most worried about falling into financial difficulty over the summer - but working parents across the UK are also struggling to make ends meet:

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· A quarter of all ‘worried parents’ in work (25%) were concerned about the cost of food over summer

· Almost 1 in 5 (19%) ‘worried parents’ in work were concerned about taking unpaid leave to cover the cost of childcare

Major Nick Coke of The Salvation Army said: “Every summer, Salvation Army offices see the strain that summer has on families as essential support like school dinners are suspended and they also face school uniform bills.

“Despite statutory guidance for schools on affordable school uniforms, every year we are seeing greater demand for our uniform banks with parents telling us that even ‘affordable’ uniforms are not an option if you have no money.

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“As the new Government considers the next budget, a priority must be to ensure that at the very least, benefits cover the cost of essentials to make sure no child goes hungry at any time.

“However, we don’t want children to just survive summer with three square meals and uniform that fits for the new term; we want them to thrive, play, explore and relax. Children being able to enjoy the summer should not be a luxury which is why The Salvation Army runs summer camps, play groups, drop-ins and other summer activities. Children get to spread their wings and struggling parents get a little but much needed break too.”

Parents across the UK were also asked what would ease the strain during the school holidays:

· 46% said vouchers or extra cash payments to help replace free school meals, dropping to 40% in the South East of England

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· 55% want school uniforms to be more affordable, rising to 57% in the South East

· 53% want more affordable childcare – 54% in the South East said this

· 46% want to make sure benefits cover the cost of living, dropping to 41% in the South East

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a poll commissioned by The Salvation Army by YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4234 adults. Regional sample size for referenced questions was 161 unless otherwise stated. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st - 25th June 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

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