Report: disadvantaged families suffering most during Covid-19
In October 2020, Parent Zone carried out research with Ipsos MORI to understand how families have been coping during Covid-19. We surveyed more than 1,000 UK parents of children aged 17 and under, to find out how lockdown restrictions had impacted. The research found that not only has the mental health of many children been negatively affected, but a clear link exists between a family’s wellbeing and its financial situation.
A quarter of parents (25%) with incomes below £20,000 said they had not been personally coping, compared to just 14% of those earning more than £55,000. And 36% of lower-income parents said their child’s mental health and wellbeing had worsened since lockdown started, compared to 31% in the £20-£54,999 range.
Technology has generally had a positive impact on family life, with 77% of parents saying that connected tech helped during lockdown. But a divide between rich and poor was again evident. Of families in the top earnings bracket, 85% saw a benefit from connected tech. This dropped to 71% for those earning below £20,000.
Parents on the lowest incomes have also felt the least benefit from time spent together, with fewer identifying improvements in their relationships with their children or feeling closer as a family. Only a third of low-earning parents (36%) saw a positive impact on their ability to educate their child – compared to half of the highest-earners.
Vicki Shotbolt, founder and CEO of Parent Zone, said: "Our research highlights significant gaps between parents with the resources to access help, and the ones without. It also shows that parents have been coping admirably well – but at a cost.
"Giving parents the recognition they deserve and the support they need is vital if – as the government claims – we want to minimise the negative impact for children and young people growing up during Covid."
In the report, Parent Zone calls for a government response. These actions include:
A family grant to enable disadvantaged parents to improve digital access and ensure all families have the same opportunities
Including support for those facing unexpected childcare costs
Policymaking should take account of extra pressures on parents
The government should publish its 2021 plans for English schools as soon as possible. Whether this involves exams, a robustly-tested algorithm or something else, the plans should also be independently reviewed