October 25, 2016 - Latest: Pensions – sounding the retreat? by Steve Herbert

Britons delaying starting families due to affordability worries

4th August 2016

Britain’s next generation of parents are delaying plans to start a family mainly due to affordability concerns, new research from the Scottish Widows think tank the Centre for the Modern Family (CMF) has found.

The latest CMF report reveals that almost half (45%) of 25-34 year olds plan to delay starting a family for at least three years. Half (50%) are delaying due to money worries, making this a bigger barrier than career goals (37%) or getting married (42%). A further fifth (21%) have debts they want clear before having children.

Would-be parents surveyed aim to accrue a nest egg of almost £5,500 on average before having a first child, and more than a fifth (22%) hope to save more than £10,000 to fund their new family. Despite ambitious plans, almost two thirds (64%) have not saved anything, and even amongst those who have, average savings amount to under £1,600.

Shared responsibility

Britain’s next generation of parents are already thinking about how they cover childcare costs. Whilst almost a third (31%) of fathers are currently solely responsible for paying for childcare (compared to 16% of mothers), would-be parents are striving for more equality. More than two in five (44%) see this as a shared responsibility, compared to a quarter (23%) of current parents.

Britain’s next generation of parents also plan to share the practical responsibilities; currently, 85% of fathers work full time after their first child is born, and 75% of mothers are the primary care-giver. Yet the next generation of parents, 55% of would-be fathers plan to work full time, and only 53% of would-be mothers expect to be the primary care-giver. As a result, the number of parents sharing childcare is set to increase from 28% to 38%, enabling both parents to spend more time with their family, alongside their career.

A boost for shared parental leave

Whilst CMF data shows that only 1% of parents have taken advantage of shared parental leave to date, almost half (47%) of next generation parents plan to do so. The research also indicates that more could be done to encourage uptake: of those who do not plan to take it up, 14% claim they don’t understand how it works, 13% think it will harm their prospects of promotion and a worrying 7% don’t think their employer would welcome it.

Anita Frew, chair at the Centre for the Modern Family said: “This latest CMF research shows that affordability is the key consideration for young people when it comes to planning their own families. It is important that this generation are given the support they need to plan and budget effectively in order to feel confident about starting a family.

“However, the research also clearly shows that the next generation of parents have strong intentions when it comes to being able to continue to enjoy their work, without having to compromise on spending time as a family. It is vital that they are encouraged to follow through on their ambitions, allowing both men and women to enjoy the best of both worlds, in order for us to see them follow through on these great intentions.”

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