NEW research suggests nearly two-thirds of families find paying their bills is harder now than it was a year ago.
A third of households with children said they had suffered a significant downturn in their finances over the last 12 months, according to Edinburgh University.
Homes without children have suffered a less severe decline in fortunes.
The survey was commissioned by Parenting Across Scotland, who are working with the University’s Centre for Research on Families and Relationships and Capability Scotland as part of the About Families partnership.
More than a thousand individuals in Scotland were asked if their household found it more or less difficult to pay bills such as mortgage, rent, council tax, TV licence or landline telephones compared to this time last year. The survey discovered that 61 per cent of households with children find it harder.
One third (32 per cent) of households with children found it a lot more difficult, significantly more than households without children (24 per cent), said the survey by TNS-BMRB.
The About Families partnership has produced a new report, Parenting On A Low Income. It found that specific family types, such as single parents and large families, are at most risk of sliding into poverty.
The report found that two-thirds of families affected by disability (64 per cent) said that the additional costs related to living with a disability impacted family life and increased stress.
Researchers found that cutting back harms parenting, there is little evidence that low income families mismanage their money, and most people living below the poverty line do not live in deprived areas.
The report calls for more affordable childcare to be made available.
Sarah Morton, Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, said:
“We know that the experience of living in poverty is overwhelmingly negative and has a range of impacts on families, including damage to health and well-being and restricted opportunities. Current and future changes to welfare are forecast to increase child poverty, as well as poverty amongst families affected by disability. By gathering research evidence on this topic we hope that those delivering services will be better able to reflect on how living on low incomes affects family life and well-being, and develop effective ways to support parents to manage the many stresses it brings.”
Alison Clancy, Project Officer for Parenting Across Scotland, said: “Undoubtedly the economic downturn and welfare changes are having an adverse affect on family finances. This survey finds that the scale of the challenge faced by families in Scotland is great. Financial difficulties have an impact on the emotional well-being of families and can lead to family breakdown and stress. We should and must continue to invest in families and children, we need to ensure that all Scotland’s children are assured of an equal chance of health, well-being and economic prosperity.”