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Parents on minimum wage fail to hit minimum living standards

By Emily Dugan

The cost of bringing up children has increased so sharply that even families with both parents in work do not have enough money to live on, according to new analysis.

Research from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows how the costs involved in raising children have increased far faster than wages, leaving many parents struggling.

It found that families in which both parents earn the minimum wage are still 18% short of the basic amount needed to provide a minimum standard of living

The paper calculates the cost of what the public says every family requires to meet its basic needs and participate in society: food, household items and childcare. This is then contrasted with the reality of people's budgets to calculate a shortfall.

For a couple, the cost of a child has risen by 8% to £164.19 a week. For lone parents the increase is 11% and the overall cost is also higher at £184.50 a week because there is only one adult to offset savings from their own living expenses.

Although wages are forecast to start growing, those on the lowest incomes are unlikely to see an improvement. Because family benefits have been capped to below inflation rises, experts say the living standards of low-income families will stay inadequate and could get worse.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of CPAG, said: "This research reveals that meeting the 'no frills' needs of families is becoming tougher as the cost of a child rises while wages flatline and support from Government is cut."

Commenting on the fact that parents working full-time on the minimum wage could not earn enough to bring up their children, Ms Garnham added: "It is difficult to see how this can be justified or why no political party has set out policies to address this as a matter of urgency."

For parents with young children, childcare is the most prohibitive cost, jumping by 42% between 2008 and 2014, more than twice the official inflation rate.

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