Inter-generational support in low-income families

The ‘bank of mum and dad’ is a crucial source of welfare for people on low incomes, and those not able to access it are at greater risk of isolation and poverty, according to a new report from the Social Market Foundation think tank.

The report focuses on the prevalence and impact of familial welfare in low-income families, specifically the financial and practical assistance parents give to adult children. It draws in part on polling by ComRes – an online survey of 2,055 adults, boosted by computer-assisted telephone interviews with 510 people from low-income households. Polling took place in June-July 2013.

Key findings

  • 52 per cent of people on low incomes had received financial support as an adult from a parent, and 23 per cent said they wouldn’t have been able to survive without parental support.
  • Low-income recipients were most likely to say they received parental support in the form of lifts in a car (16 per cent), cooked meals (18 per cent) and support with decorating, gardening and housing repairs (16 per cent).
  • 78 per cent of low-income donors reported that giving was a positive experience. But 19 per cent reported that giving financial or practical support had caused them stress; 11 per cent said it had caused arguments; and 12 per cent said it had put them into debt.
  • People with higher levels of income are much more likely to support their adult children financially. Those with an equivalised annual household income of £10,000 or less were roughly three times less likely to donate regular or frequent financial support to their adult children than those with incomes of £30,000 or more.

The report says that policy-makers should begin to focus on the inequalities that emerge between recipients and non-recipients of parental support – among low-income families in particular. The inequality between the socially networked and the socially isolated has been ignored for too long.

: Ryan Shorthouse, Family Fortunes: The Bank of Mum and Dad in Low Income Families, Social Market Foundation
LinksReport | SMF press release

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