Working parents ‘avoid time off over Christmas due to rising costs’

A poll found working parents are concerned about soaring energy bills and prices in shops this winter.

Working parents ‘avoid time off over Christmas due to rising costs’ iStock
Christmas: Working parents voice their concerns over rising costs during the festive period.

A quarter of working parents in Scotland said they are likely to take on extra work or avoid having time off over the festive period due to a rise in living costs, a new survey has shown.

The poll, for charity Action for Children in Scotland, found almost three-quarters of working parents (74%) are concerned about soaring energy bills and prices in shops this winter.

Of these, 25% said they are likely to avoid taking time off or work extra hours, with nearly nine in ten set to miss out on family gatherings during the Christmas break.

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics showed the cost of living surged at its fastest rate in about a decade, reaching 3.8% in the year to October.

The charity survey said the top five money concerns for working parents in Scotland this Christmas are: the rise in energy bills (74%), rising prices (76%), price of food (67%), car fuel costs (67%), and affording warm winter clothing for their family (45%).

A third (35%) of participants plan to cut back on celebrations and parties, with almost a quarter (24%) spending less on travelling to visit friends and family and a fifth (20%) saying they will reduce spending on Christmas food.

The charity questioned 2500 working parents and 1000 children aged eight to 17 across the UK to understand their financial concerns over Christmas.

The separate children’s survey found nearly two-thirds of those who took part fear a difficult family Christmas, with their parents worried about making it a happy time.

Director at Action for Children in Scotland Paul Carberry said: “For most of us the festive season is a happy time but there are children all over Scotland and the UK who face a very different Christmas.

“After almost two years of worry, isolation and poverty, many families are now at breaking point, struggling to afford the basics like food, heating and clothes.”

The survey also looked at working parents on Universal Credit across the UK.

Of these, nearly two in five (38%) said they are likely to cut back on heating, with almost a third (30%) likely to skip meals.

Almost a quarter (24%) said they will probably replace meals with breakfast cereal, and one in five (20%) said they are likely to need to seek help from a foodbank over the break.

Asked about their parents’ biggest fears this Christmas, most children (63%) thought their parents would be worried about making Christmas a happy time for their family, with more than half (53%) saying they would be concerned about keeping their family safe and healthy from Covid-19.

The survey has been released as the charity launched its annual Secret Santa campaign to help the country’s most vulnerable children this winter.

Mr Carberry added: “Our frontline workers see the impact the pandemic and cost of living crisis is having on children and families who are under pressure every day, but we also see the difference that can be made – that’s why we’re asking people to donate to help us make a life-changing difference to vulnerable children this Christmas and beyond.

“With your help this Christmas we can be a vital lifeline for even more UK children.

“We can make sure they have the basics, like hot meals and proper winter clothes and offer emergency support to keep homes warm and help families pay the bills.”