The real cost of lockdown for Britain’s poorer families

My costs have gone up, not down, during lockdown

Lockdown hasn’t had many benefits, from the mental health (or lack of) effects from isolating, to the effects on physical health (and their knock-on effects on our mental health) that the closure of gyms has had, it’s been a painful year.

However, one of the widely touted benefits of the year of lockdown restrictions has been the reduction in general expenses; lower transport costs, cheaper childcare, fewer shop-bought office lunches and no foreign holidays all adding up to enable us to save a little money.

The reality, though, for many people, is that lockdown has in fact, increased outgoings.

Less travel

The savings made by traveling less are often mitigated, or even outstripped, by the increased costs of energy. Especially during the last couple of particularly cold months, heating bills are up massively as people are at home far more than they would have been had it not been for the pandemic.

So, for many, traveling less has actually seen their outgoings increase.

Fewer shop-bought office lunches

This is reality, but must also be weighed against the fact that, for many of the poorest households, there is now a need to buy extra food to feed children who would previously have been in school getting, often subsidized, school meals.

Additionally, for many people in more rural settings, the cost of food has also increased as they’re forced – by lack of public transport and distance to the nearest supermarket – to shop in more expensive local shops.

Cheaper childcare

This is often fallacy, as well. In most cases, nurseries are still insisting that fees be paid by parents, regardless of the fact that their children aren’t actually going to nursery.

So, although parents of school-age children may well be saving on childminders’ fees, those of children who go to nursery are, in many cases, still being charged for a service that they’re not even receiving on threat of places being lost if payments aren’t made.

Fewer foreign holidays

Although this is undoubtedly providing a big saving for those families who are used to going abroad every year – or even every school holiday. For those families that already couldn’t afford to go abroad, this isn’t a saving at all.

Home schooling costs

With schools closed (again), the costs of laptops, internet, printing of homework assignments and other associated costs of home schooling are providing further strain on the finances of poorer families.

Indeed, a new report, ‘Pandemic Pressures’, a collaboration between the Resolution Foundation and the Covid Realities research project at the University of York, has found that during the pandemic, low-income families are twice as likely to have increased their spending than families with higher incomes.

Shopping around for the best deal is no longer possible or practical, going to families and friends for a meal if the cupboards are empty is no longer possible, the ‘Whoopsie’ reduced sections are more in demand than ever, online food delivery services generally have a minimum basket size and delivery slots can be hard to come by, also, not everyone has access to the internet or a functioning bus service. Also, the need to entertain children that are at home 24 hours a day has brought further costs that previously weren’t an issue.

Government action

Mike Brewer, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The pandemic has forced society as a whole to spend less and save more. But these broad spending patterns don’t hold true for everyone.

“The extra cost of feeding, schooling and entertaining children 24/7 means that, for many families, lockdowns have made life more expensive to live on a low income.”

However, a government spokesperson said measures had been put in place to “ensure that nobody is left behind”, including extra welfare payments, job protection safeguards, the £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme, and equipment for home-schooling.

“We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families through the pandemic and beyond,” the spokesperson said.

What can you do if debts are mounting up?

If you’re finding that lockdown has left you with debts that have spiralled out of control, or indeed any debts that you’re finding unaffordable and difficult to deal with, then call us today.

We can can provide advice on debt solutions that may be able to help you to start getting back in control of your finances.

A workable debt solution could provide you with protection from your creditors, reduced payments to your debts, freeze interest and charges on your accounts and could even help you to write off unaffordable debts.

If you’re struggling with debt, fill in our 30 second form, or call us today and we’ll discuss your options with you and help you to see if a debt solution could be the first step on your road back to debt freedom.

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