According to Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG’s) recent report, ‘Families in 2022 are facing the greatest threat to their living standards in living memory.’ Calculations for the current economic climate show that the cost across 18 years to raise a child is nearly £70,000 for a couple and over £113,000 for a lone parent to cover basic costs. When accounting for childcare and rent, these figures rise to over £157,000 for a couple and £208,735 for a lone parent across the same time period of 0-18 (3).  

Childcare alone accounts for 60 per cent of the costs of raising a child for a couple working full time, an increase of 20 percent over the last 10 years (3). A nonworking parent or couple will receive less than half of those costs covered by benefits and even a lone parent earning a median wage would only earn 88% of what is needed to make ends meet (3). Furthermore, the structure of childcare support and the lack of provision for 0-1 year-olds functions as a disincentive even up until the age of 3 making it challenging for lone parents to increase their earnings through higher paying jobs because they will spend too much of their income on childcare costs in their child’s early years (5).  

One positive of note is the increase over several years of the ‘national living wage’ which the chancellor has recently confirmed to be raised in April 2023 by 10.1 per cent becoming £10.42 for over 23-year-olds (National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates – GOV.UK ( as well as an uprate in benefits by the same percentage (Chancellor delivers plan for stability, growth and public services – GOV.UK (  

However, these benefits are mitigated by the existence of the benefit cap which limits the impact and real take home increase these other changes will have (10). The report offers the example of ‘[a] couple supporting two children and living in private accommodation, for example, is now over £350 a week short of meeting their needs, an increase since 2016 of nearly 60 per cent. This is the result of the benefit cap biting,’ a reality even worse for children with a third child, but unable to access further support because of the two-child limit (10).  

Specific to London families, 4in10 has shown that housing and food costs are hitting London families especially hard (Cost of Living Crisis & Children in Poverty: London Spotlight). The cost of a child in London is likely to be higher because of increased costs of childcare, housing and food prices.  

Overall CPAG’s report shows that not only has the cost-of-living crisis hit families hard, but that this is a long-term deterioration of support over the past decade that has snowballed this winter. For families in London, the challenges are complex and ways of accessing support can be daunting and confusing. For the organisations supporting these families, this report confirms what we already know, families are being squeezed bone dry to keep their children fed and cared for, there’s is nothing left in the tank, but the opportunity to provide targeted support to families both from the charitable and government sector is abundant. Children are worth every penny of investment, but we need to take seriously the need to advocate for systemic change in how we give every child what they need.