One in six parents would cancel Christmas if they could and half of UK children think their parents will be worried about making it a happy time for their family, according to a new survey.
The YouGov survey, commissioned by the charity Action for Children, lays bare the heavy financial toll felt by a new wave of parents who have never needed help but are now struggling.
Nearly half (46%) of parents on Universal Credit surveyed are facing their first-ever Christmas on the benefit. Of these mums and dad, 41% wish they could cancel Christmas, while more than half (55%) reported plans to delay paying household bills, borrow money or sell belongings to pay for Christmas celebrations.
As the charity launches its Christmas Secret Santa campaign to help the country’s most vulnerable children, it also explored the effects of the pandemic on families supported by the charity’s Emergency Fund through an investigation.
With Coronavirus restrictions increasing living costs, most families reported cutting back on essentials like food to put fuel in the car, or falling behind with household bills.
One family had already lost their home and others fear they could soon lose theirs. Nearly every parent reported concerning new behaviours in their children such as anger and fear, with some children suffering panic attacks.
The pressure for many has been increased by the fact they have a new baby, an unwell child, someone in the home with a disability or because they have to shield.
Deputy chief executive of Action for Children, Carol Iddon, said: ‘Christmas should be the most exciting time of the year but instead children and young people are desperately struggling to get through this crisis, with parents wishing away the pressure of the festive season.
‘Every day our frontline workers are helping parents keep their heads above water as some face the prospect of eviction or selling belongings to cover the cost of Christmas.
‘While vulnerable children who should be enjoying a safe and happy childhood are suffering nightmares, panic attacks, or being scared of issues like death and illness.
‘In a year when children and families have been pushed deeper into crisis, supporting them is more important than ever.
‘Until every family can keep their child warm and well-fed, we’ll be there to help them, that’s why we’re asking people to donate to help us make a life-changing difference to vulnerable children this Christmas and beyond.
‘But these families cannot rely on the generosity of the British public alone, the Government must play its part. The Chancellor must give struggling families peace of mind this Christmas by promising that he will not be cutting Universal Credit payments by over £1,000 a year in the Spring.’
Be a Secret Santa for a vulnerable child this Christmas text CHILD to 70607 or click here.
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