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Children in a cost of living crisis

The cost of living crisis means even more families are struggling to keep their children warm and fed. How are children responding to the rise in food and energy costs and what can the Government do to protect younger generations?


cost of living facts

1 in 3

children in the UK were already living in poverty prior to the crisis

4.2 million

children were living in poverty in 2021-22

how the cost of living crisis is impacting families

The last few weeks have been a choice of food over warmth

As prices of groceries and toiletries increase, families are finding it increasingly hard to provide for their children. The cost of living is rising faster than people's income.

Thanks to our supporters and charity partners, the government listened to our campaign and promised to raise benefits in line with inflation. It will keep hundreds of thousands of children from falling into poverty. But families are still struggling. 

teenage boy looking worried

mum might skip meals just so we can heat the house mum might skip meals just so we can heat the house

– Brandon, 16 years old

cost of living support

Cost at the supermarket

Many parents still talk about skipping meals to feed their children. Or buying cheaper processed food which they know is worse for their children's health.

One single mum says, 'being at the supermarket makes me want to cry. I'm so upset I can't get what my son needs'.

Another parent of three says, 'my children used to love coming shopping with me but I can't take them anymore. At the supermarket, I'm constantly putting stuff back'.

mother holding daughter whilst calculating bills

Energy bill costs

As well as food costs, gas and electricity price rises are piling the stress onto struggling families.

'Right now my gas and electric is over £300 per month', says parent of children with undiagnosed special needs. 'I can only afford £100 so I'm getting into £200 debt every month now, which I know will catch up with me.'

We talked with these parents a few months back. Imagine the energy bill costs now, after a week of freezing temperatures.

children's experiences

people underestimate how much young people see people underestimate how much young people see

– Eli, 19 years old

Emotional cost

Not being able to afford the basics can take a huge emotional toll on children and parents. 

'One young person I work with said they wanted to get a job to help pay the bills, says our Child Sexual Exploitation Worker. 'They are thirteen years old.'

'Some of the most vulnerable young people, already dealing with so much, now have the added stress of money'.

One parent worries her children will miss out on a fun childhood. 'Birthdays and Christmases will be missed. Memories will turn into stressful and harmful ones.'

mum quote

A happy home is a happy family. Life is about living

But she goes on to say, 'if things get worse, it would mean having to live in a shelter soon'. Another mum, who recently escaped homelessness says 'if our rent increases, we'll have to go back to being homeless.'

'I am 42 years old and I have three children but honestly when I think about rising bills, I just want to run back to my mum's house. I don't know where I'd be without the support of charities.'


school girl in glasses and parka hood smiling

Help us protect every  childhood

We're campaigning so that families with children are properly protected through the cost of living crisis. This means increased benefits, proper emergency support and free school meals. 

Thinking beyond the crisis

What we need from now is targeted support for children. One-off payments are a welcome boost, but the government must learn lessons from the pandemic. 

We need investment in a system that works for children and struggling families in the long term, instead of pulling them back from the brink of financial crisis as and when.

long terms solutions to the cost of living crisis

boy blue hoody looking at camera

This means increasing child benefit, giving more children access to free school meals and more sustained funding for Local Welfare Assistance schemes.

This funding enables Local Authorities to provide emergency financial support to families when things go wrong. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the government have invested various pots of money into this scheme. But we now need a sustained investment of £1 billion per year to ensure vulnerable households are protected in the long term.

cost of living facts


will be the inflation rate in April for the poorest UK households (Bank of England)


more children will be pushed in to poverty next year if wages don't increase with inflation (Resolution Foundation)

girl standing outside house looking at camera

Campaign with us

As the cost of living crisis worsens, families are being put under even more pressure. Children are going to bed cold, hungry and without hope.

We have three main asks. More free school meals, increased benefits and better emergency support. No parent should have to choose between heating their home and feeding their children. 

The government must act now.