Single parents buckle under half-term pressure

Research shows 4 out of 5 single parents think they need more financial support

  • 1 in 5 single parents have called in sick to look after their children during school holidays
  • 35% of single parents have taken unpaid leave, compared to just 18% of dual-income households
  • 1 in 3 admit to falling behind on rent after Christmas spending

Up and down the UK, children are enjoying the half-term holiday and the break from studying. However, new research1 commissioned by credit information provider, Equifax, reveals that single parents don’t necessarily share the same enthusiasm, with many admitting to struggling with the extra costs involved.

A fifth of single parents have called in sick in order to look after their children during the school holidays. They are also much more likely to take time off work during school holidays (56%), compared to two-parent families (46%). And 35% of single parents take unpaid leave compared to just 18% of dual-income households, putting them under further financial pressure.

Half-term also comes with the added pressure to spend money to keep kids entertained. The Equifax commissioned research shows that most parents expect to spend a staggering £178.29 on their children this half-term, which is only £70 less than the average Christmas spend. It may come as no surprise therefore that 4 out of 5 single parents think they need more financial support.

4 in 5 (82%) single parents say children miss out on social activities because they are too expensive. And 4 in 5 parents agree that school holidays are getting more expensive every year, with over three quarters (76%) saying there are fewer free options out of term time, compared to five years ago.

And it’s not just half-term when single parents face a financial struggle. The Christmas holidays are also a challenge according to Equifax commissioned research2. Two in 5 single parents (42%) admit they have regularly fallen behind or even missed credit card payments and bills after Christmas. A third have even fallen behind on rent after the festive season.

Singer, Presenter and mother of 3, Jamelia understands some of the financial pressures that single parents can experience. Commenting on the Equifax research she said: "Although these results are quite alarming, unfortunately they demonstrate the difficulties that some single parents go through in order to support their children. Having experienced single parenthood myself I understand the pressure that you can go through; you are caught between wanting to give you children everything they deserve and being able to manage everything financially.

"The good news is there are steps that single parents can take in order to manage their money and still make sure the kids have fun during the school holidays. There are a lot of cheap activities out there that won’t break the bank, so check out what’s going on in your local community and always be honest and open with your children about what you can and can’t afford to do. Remember that spending time together as a family is a lot more important than spending a lot of money and getting yourself into financial difficulty that could impact you in the future."

Lisa Hardstaff, credit information expert for Equifax added: "It’s clear from our research that single parents are suffering from the added financial burden half-term puts on families. Every parent wants to ensure their children don’t miss out, but it’s worrying to see that single parents may be missing credit card payments or even their rent to fund out of term-time activities as this may have an impact on their ability to get credit in the future."

1An online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among 2,001 UK parents of school aged children. The research fieldwork took place between 1st and 7th February 2019. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides to MRS code.
2Censuswide survey of 1,002 single parents. 22.11.2018-26.11.2018


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About Equifax

Equifax Inc. (Equifax) is a global information solutions company that uses unique data, innovative analytics, technology and industry expertise to power organizations and individuals around the world by transforming knowledge into insights that help make more informed business and personal decisions.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. It is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index, and its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. Equifax employs 10,400 employees worldwide.

Equifax Limited is one of the Equifax group companies based in the UK.

Equifax Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.