Coping classes turn to parents for help

Nia Williams

April 11, 2011

The Friends Life report looks at the profound changes in the way in which generations within families support each other.

According to the report, entitled The Coping Classes and part of Friends Life’s Vision of Britain 2020 series, the recession has over half (59%) of middle income households unable to provide for themselves and their families for longer than six months if they lost their main source of income. Fuelled by the fear that over half of people unemployed in the UK have been so for over six months (52%), this group – termed the ‘Coping Classes’ – is now putting a series of coping mechanisms in place to stave off the threat of a potential financial survival gap.

Faced with unique and unprecedented financial pressures, the report reveals that over 40% of the Coping Classes would turn to their parents for financial support over and above anyone else.

Yet despite looking to their parents to provide a financial buffer in times of need, the Coping Classes remain more committed than any other socio-economic groups to helping their children financially.

According to the report, 57% of Coping Class parents are helping or expect to help their children to buy a house, compared to just 33% of other parents (who ranked help with getting married highest).

Commenting on the findings, David Hynam, executive director at Friends Life, said:

“The recession has forced the Coping Classes to abandon their role as the ‘sandwich generation’, providing financial support to both their grown up kids and their retired parents. Many are now finding that it’s their parents – typically retired baby boomers who may have escaped the worst effects of the downturn and government cuts – who are helping them out.

“Despite relying on their retired parents to act as a financial buffer, the Coping Classes are still committed to helping their own children but it’s now all about hand ups, not hand outs. What we’re seeing emerging – fuelled by the recession – is a new model of downward assistance, with each generation giving a leg-up to the one below. Practical parenting is taking on a whole new meaning, extending beyond those first few formative years to a whole-life role.”

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