Posted: Wed 29th Nov 2023

More than one in three households with children will struggle to afford Christmas

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Nov 29th, 2023

As the festive season approaches, a new report paints a grim picture of financial strain among UK families.

A recent YouGov poll, commissioned by StepChange Debt Charity, reveals that one in three households with children will face difficulties affording a family Christmas this year.

The survey indicates a concerning reliance on credit to cover the costs of Christmas.

Approximately one in twelve people, equating to around 4 million, plan to use credit for Christmas expenses.

Notably, 27% of respondents will have to cut back on regular expenses to afford the festive season, and a further 2%, or around 1 million people, won’t celebrate Christmas at all due to financial constraints.

Alarmingly, 19% of those intending to borrow expect repayment to take more than a year, with over two in five stating their borrowing will exceed last year’s levels.

The primary reason for this increased dependence on credit is attributed to the higher cost of living.

Three-quarters of those relying on credit cite this as their main reason for borrowing.

Despite a slowdown in inflation, the prices for everyday goods remain significantly higher than in previous years, stretching finances during the festive season.

Vikki Brownridge, CEO at StepChange Debt Charity, said:

“People, especially those with children, understandably feel pressured around Christmas time to spend money to create special moments and memories with their loved ones. However, this pressure, can often encourage people to spend more than they can afford, and turn to credit to cover these costs.

“Against a backdrop of almost two years of high inflation, it’s very likely that relying too heavily on credit at Christmas could lead to debt problems in the New Year. At StepChange, we see some of our busiest days during January each year, with last January being our busiest month for several years.

“We would urge those who are thinking about borrowing to cover festive costs to always carefully consider whether those credit repayments will be comfortably affordable when the New Year comes around. Many adverts around this time of year imply that spending is the way to create a happy Christmas, but in reality people would prefer their loved ones to be free from financial worries and problem debt in the New Year. If you are struggling with debt, now or in January and beyond, it’s never too soon to reach out for help. Free debt advice and support is available from charities like StepChange.”

StepChange has shared its top three tips for people worried about their finances this festive season, and what to keep in mind when Christmas shopping:

  1. Go through your budget to look at what you can realistically afford to spend over the festive period. This is a really helpful way to identify how much money you have spare to go toward Christmas planning. StepChange has a step-by-step guide to help you create a budget and create a clearer picture of your finances.
  2. Keep your eye out for deals or offers on items you know you want to buy this Christmas, but don’t get drawn into buying things you didn’t need in the first place – a deal is only a deal if you were going to buy it anyway. Making a list in advance of your Christmas shopping may help you to stick to it and prevent you from buying extras you may not need.
  3. Think carefully before you borrow money – try not to get drawn into short-term high cost credit, or options to buy now and pay later if it’s not affordable. If it’s going to take many months to repay what you borrow to pay for Christmas, it’s worth pausing for a moment to think about whether your friends and family would really want you to suffer financially as a result of your generosity.

Free, confidential debt advice is available 24/7 using StepChange’s online debt advice service at www.stepchange.org

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