52% of mothers struggling with thousands of pounds of debt

workingmums.co.uk annual survey results are out and show rising debt levels and difficult career decisions amid worries about childcare costs.

woman with empty purses


New research has revealed the extent of the debt among mothers and its impact on their own mental health and that of their children. According to figures from workingmums.co.uk, over half of all mothers (52%) have debts outside their mortgage and student loan, with almost one in ten owing more than £20,000.  For nearly half (47%) this is personal rather than household debt.

The annual Working Mums survey also reveals how the cost-of-living crisis is piling on additional financial pressure, leaving families struggling to pay for childcare and basic food supplies as well as feeling the mental strain.

Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) have been cutting back on basic food supplies to save cash. One in five has used a food bank in the last year, and 15% of those rely on this support weekly, if not more frequently.

When it comes to childcare, well over half (57%) say the cost of living is having an impact on their childcare decisions.  55% of those who pay for childcare say the cost has risen significantly in the last few months, with 66% of parents with school-aged children saying they can’t afford the after school and holiday childcare they need.

Part of the problem is that while soaring inflation has pushed prices higher, wages haven’t seen the same increases. Only a fifth (22%) say their pay has risen in line with or more than inflation, 41% haven’t had a pay rise, and 37% had a rise that was less than inflation. As a result, 41% of mothers have increased their hours, and 42% have been forced to take on another job or side hustle to top up their wages. Almost a third (29%) have changed jobs recently in order to get more money.

Unsurprisingly, the stress of juggling their finances is taking its toll: 48% of respondents said their mental health has deteriorated in the last year, and almost a quarter (24%) said their children also have mental health issues. Over half (51%) attribute their mental health problems, at least in part, to money. Financial problems are causing strain in other areas of life, too; of those with partners, 41% say money issues have led to tension in their relationship.

Mandy Garner, Spokesperson for workingmums.co.uk, said: “The financial crisis is having a devastating impact on families; personal debt for mums is rising, and clearly its impact is being felt in all corners of their life from family life to relationships to work.

“When we’ve reached the point that holiday and after-school childcare is unaffordable for two-thirds of working mothers and almost half are working two jobs to make ends meet, we’re in danger of pushing parents to the very brink. Despite talk of rising wages, many mums are not seeing an increase. Much more needs to be done to ensure that work provides a liveable wage and is flexible enough to meet the demands of today’s workforce.”

*Full survey results here.

**Workingmums.co.uk is supporting mothers who are getting back into work with a Return To Work Week on the 25-29th of September. The programme is packed full of advice and information, which you can register for here. 

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