Third of mums go into debt on maternity leave
Nearly a third of new mothers go into debt as a result of taking maternity leave and 11 per cent go back to work early because of money worries, according to a study by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.
The survey found around 28 per cent of mums go into debt on maternity leave, with the average debt being around £2,500. Only a quarter said they felt financially prepared for motherhood. Some nine per cent who wanted to be stay at home mums had been forced to return to work because of financial pressure.
The survey found mums' average monthly net household income had typically dropped from £2,866 to £1,654 while they had been on maternity leave. More than four in 10 don't save any money to cover their time off.
Ten per cent had borrowed money from relatives and 14 per cent had used credit cards, loans and overdrafts to get them through their maternity leave.
Almost a quarter (23%)delay having their first child because they can't afford it and four in ten (39%) of those who don’t want any more children are put off by the cost. Around 9% felt guilty because they couldn’t afford to give their baby everything they wanted to.
The survey found first-time mums are spending more than £1,400 on average on things for the baby during their maternity leave, but more than one in ten (13%) spend at least £2,500. This is on top of an average spend of over £1,500 before going on maternity leave.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Planning for a baby is tough at the best of times, but in the face of the soaring cost of living there is even more pressure on family finances. For some families this can mean some very difficult decisions. It’s heartbreaking that so many mums are being forced into debt or having to cut short their maternity leave just to make ends meet.
"Sadly, very few mums have the luxury of being able to stay at home for the whole of their maternity leave and even fewer have the choice to be a stay at home mum. It’s clear that more needs to be done by the Government to help families cope with the financial burden of parenthood, but in the meantime families can help their situation by reviewing household budgets and looking at where they can cut costs to save a bit of extra cash.”