This week has seen further fears of a double dip recession which would place increasing pressure on the family purse, as figures emerged that the economy shrank at the end of last year.
New and expectant parents are already starting to feel the bite from the Government cuts, and NCT, the UK’s largest parenting charity, is worried about how those who rely on financial support will be affected.
An average couple with two children and one on the way, and a household income of £24,000 could already be seeing themselves close to £1000 down, with further cuts on the way later this year:
• Health in Pregnancy Grant abolished from 1st January
• Sure Start Maternity Grant restricted to only the first-born child from April
• The Child Trust Fund abolished, Government contributions ceasing from January.
• Child benefits will be frozen from April until 2013.
• On top of this, VAT has risen by £2.5%, bringing it to 20% and National Insurance is set to rise to a basic rate of 12 per cent in April.
• The average price of a basket of groceries has risen from £67.49 a year ago to £70.49.
Other measures being introduced, which could affect families, include:
• Housing benefit will be capped at £400 per week for a four-bedroom house, from April 2011.
• Child benefits will be scrapped for families where either mum or dad is a higher rate tax payer earning over £44,000, affecting 1.5 million families from 2013. With child benefit worth £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 a week for subsequent children, a couple with two children would lose £1,752 a year.
• Families paying higher rate tax will also lose around £41 per week tax credits from April 2011, when credits are restricted to households earning less than £40,000.
How NCT can benefit parents
We realise having a baby is expensive business; clothes, toys, equipment, food and nappies all cost money that parents have to find from somewhere.
NCT wants new families to be free from being pulled apart by the struggle to meet their financial needs and feel able to meet the needs of their baby. We also want to see a more supportive environment for families in the UK before it’s too late to repair the damage later on down the line. And it’s here that NCT charity can help parents who are struggling to make ends meet.
• NCT Nearly New Sales
NCT’s popular Nearly New Sales are a financial lifeline for cash-strapped parents, providing an alternative to forking out for brand new baby products, and an opportunity for families to make money from selling clothes and equipment they no longer need. The Sales are not exclusively for NCT members, they are open to everyone whether buying, selling or both! With average Sale prices being a third of full price goods on the high street, a family can expect to save around £54.50. NCT’s Nearly New Sales are becoming ever more popular in the financial climate – last year more than 200,000 parents attended one.
Visit www.nct.org.uk/nearlynewsales for details of your nearest Sale.
• Bumps and Babies groups
NCT offers parents an affordable way of meeting friends and getting out and about. Bumps and Babies groups are informal meetings run by local NCT branches where new and expectant parents can make friends and share experiences, ensuring they do not have to face these tough financial times alone. Some groups are free; others ask for a small donation to cover the cost of refreshments.
• House Swap
The NCT House Swap scheme entitles families to unlimited house swaps each year and is free to NCT members. There are over 200 houses currently on the NCT House Swap register in the UK and a few houses are registered abroad. Those interested can register their details online, making it easier and quicker to view photographs of potential houses and communicate directly with other families. NCT House Swap is becoming more popular as families opt to holiday in the UK rather than abroad.
• Reduced price NCT antenatal courses
NCT antenatal classes for mums and dads-to-be are run throughout the UK, with reduced rates available depending on circumstances. Expectant parents aged under 18 or with a yearly household income of less than £15,000 pay 10% of the course price. Those with a yearly household income of £15,000 - £25,000, students and those on government supports are also eligible for reductions of up to 90%. All parents are welcome to pay by instalment to make fees that bit more manageable.
• Equipment hire
Breast pumps and valley cushions are available for hire to NCT members through local branch agents, so parents do not have to fork out for expensive equipment.
• National telephone helplines
NCT runs support and information helpline, making sure someone is aways there for parents at the end of the phone. The cost to these lines is charged at local rates.
Pregnancy & Birth Line: 0300 330 0772
Breastfeeding Line: 0300 330 0771
Postnatal Line: 0300 330 0773
Shared Experiences: 0300 330 0774