18 December 2020

New data analysis published today shows the financial pressures facing families over the Christmas period with a majority of single parents, larger families and disabled parents concerned about being able to afford presents for their children.

  • 48% of younger parents (below the age of 40) are worried about not being able to afford presents for their children this Christmas compared to 39% of older parents.
  • 46% of mothers and 43% of fathers are worried not being able to afford presents for their children.
  • 53% of parents with 4 children or more are concerned about being able to afford presents for their children compared to 40% of parents of one child.
  • Disabled parents are more worried about affording presents (59%) than non-disabled parents (41%).

The analysis from Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Women’s Budget Group Northern Ireland, Women's Equality Network Wales, Close the Gap and Engender also shows that financial concerns about Christmas were particularly high amongst parents in Wales (59%) compared to other nations in the United Kingdom such as Scotland (40%).

In England, families in London (51%) are more likely to be concerned about the financial pressures of Christmas compared to the UK overall (44%).

Other Key Findings:

  • 71% of women were likely to be worried about their close ones being lonely over Christmas compared to 63% of men.
  • 48% of parents in poorer households (earning an annual income of less than £20,000) had financial concerns about Christmas.
  • 44% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic mothers and 46% of white mothers had financial concerns about Christmas.
  • 41% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic fathers and 44% white fathers had financial concerns about Christmas.

Dr Mary Ann Stephenson, Director of Women’s Budget Group, said:

“This has been a difficult year for all of us, but although we are all facing the same pandemic we are in very different positions. Yet again we can see how the economic and social impacts of the pandemic are hitting the poorest families hardest, with parents, younger people, disabled and BAME people all facing significant financial pressures. Rather than looking forward to Christmas more than half of single parents, disabled parents and parents in larger families are worrying about how they will pay for presents for their children. We urgently need a social security system that helps people when they need it most. In the short term the Government should commit to maintain the £20 uplift which to date has kept 700,000 people out of poverty which would give many families some much needed security for the future.”

Felicia Willow, Fawcett Society Interim Chief Executive, said:
"The virus doesn't discriminate, but we aren't all equal when it comes to being affected this Christmas. We are seeing financial and social worries amongst many people, with women more likely to be worrying about their loved ones and factors such as disability and single parenthood compounding financial concerns. This evidence adds to the need for Government to analyse the gender and intersectional impacts of its policy decisions - and keep additional support in place for those on the lowest incomes.

Emma Ritch, Executive Director of Engender, said:
“Winter is always a difficult time for women struggling financially, with additional heating bills, fewer hours of daylight, and extra costs for those celebrating Christmas. The added strain of Covid-19 - which has seen incomes drop and unpaid work increase for women - means that many families in Scotland will be facing a tougher Christmas than ever.

We need an economic recovery that works for women, a social security system with equality at its heart, and policy-making which recognises and prioritises Black and minority ethnic women, disabled women, and other groups who are so often ignored. Policies such as the two-child limit, and long waits for people needing to access Universal Credit all contribute to poverty and stress at this time of year, and the UK and Scottish Governments must work to alleviate the burden felt by women and their children.”

Anna Ritchie Allan, Executive Director of Close the Gap, said:
“This data highlights the significant impact Covid-19 has had on women’s lives. Women’s employment has been hardest hit in Scotland, which has led to increased financial pressures as many women struggle to make ends meet. Instead of looking forward to Christmas, many women, and in particular, single mothers and Black and minoritised women are living with the harsh reality of poverty. We need an economic recovery that recognises the disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on women’s employment to avoid exacerbating women’s higher levels of poverty.”

Catherine Fookes, Director of Women’s Equality Network Wales, said:
“We are disturbed to see that parents in Wales are the most worried about Christmas financial pressures caused by the pandemic, with 59% of parents expressing concern over finances. We urgently need Welsh Government to produce a strategy to tackle poverty that delivers a decent standard of living for everyone, while recognising the lived experiences of those who are more likely to be in poverty, such as disabled women and Black, Asian and minority ethnic women.”

Alexandra Brennan, Coordinator at Northern Ireland Women’s Budget Group (NIWBG), said:
"At the NIWBG, we find it distressing that many people are faced with significant financial concerns and are worried about their loved ones being lonely during the holiday season. To help alleviate some of these concerns, we urge the government to make the temporary £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and to create a loneliness strategy for Northern Ireland".

Notes on methodology

Our research is drawn from data collected by Survation with fieldwork conducted 18th November- 2nd December 2020. The survey was conducted via an online panel. Invitations to complete surveys were sent out to members of online panels. The population sampled were parents in the UK with children aged 14 and under. The sample size was 1,308.

Press office contacts:

Women’s Budget Group
Thaira Mhearban: [email protected] / 07838 222067/ Communications Officer
Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson: [email protected] / 07957 338582/ Director

Fawcett Society
For further information, please contact:
Fresh Communication/ 0117 369 0025
Nathalie Golden: [email protected] / 07769 66 66 27
Lisa Sutherland: [email protected] / 07801 97 99 87

Alys Mumford: [email protected]/ 07889805785/ Communications & Engagement Manager

Close the Gap
Anna Ritchie Allan: [email protected]/ 07711 926 833/ Executive Director
Women’s Equality Network Wales
Catherine Fookes: 07511 939235/ [email protected]
Megan Evans: 07716 433192/ [email protected]

Northern Ireland Women’s Budget Group
Alexandra Brennan: Coordinator/ [email protected]

Standard Life Foundation
This study was funded by Standard Life Foundation. The Foundation funds research, policy work and campaigning activities to tackle financial problems and improve living standards for people on low-to-middle incomes in the UK. It is an independent charitable foundation registered in Scotland.