The multiple challenges facing parents from low income households

Parenting can be a challenge at the best of times, but trying to raise children while living on a low income is especially stressful. Recent government figures show that child poverty is once again on the increase, with 30% of children in the UK now classed as poor. Two-thirds of these are from working families.


Living on low incomes and in poverty has a variety of negative impacts on both children and parents, including harmful effects on physical health and mental well-being. These in turn will impact upon parents’ capacity to manage the pressures of everyday life under extreme financial strain.


The Centre for Research on Families and Relationships produced a report a few years ago on parenting on a low income. The research found that going without everyday necessities and missing out on social activities is the norm for families living in poverty. This puts strains on family relationships and creates feelings of stigma and isolation among all family members.


Many parents become trapped in a poverty cycle where they struggle to find appropriate work due to barriers such as childcare. The benefits system is often a source of confusion and frustration, even more so since the welfare changes implemented a couple of years ago. Those from deprived neighbourhoods are less likely to have adequate levels of family or social support to help them cope, and it is women family members who more often than not bear the burden of the struggle.


The problems faced by parents from low-income families need to be tackled at community level and should involve parents who are experiencing problems themselves in the planning of services. Support could include:


  • help with childcare
  • accessible and affordable facilities
  • help accessing financial support
  • help with skills development
  • more family-oriented facilities and activities