Families caught out by cost of moving

Sam Cordon

October 4, 2013

Home Economics, a report by national charity Family Action and Lloyds Banking Group’s Money for Life Programme, found that some families would consider cutting back on heating and food costs or going into credit card debt to furnish their homes.

Meanwhile, others are not spending any money at all on keeping their homes in good condition, and some of the UK’s most vulnerable families are struggling to afford essential items such as fridges and even beds.

When it comes to the costly business of moving house, a quarter of Brits (25%) said that removal costs came as a financial shock, according to a YouGov survey of 2,338 adults.

Almost a quarter (23%) said they were unprepared for the costs of buying new furniture, while 23% considered the cost of essential household items such as fridges, washing machines and cookers to be surprisingly expensive.

To pay for the cost of furnishing a new home, almost a third (29%) of Britons would consider going without new clothes, 17% would cut back on food spending and 13% would cut back on heating.

Meanwhile, half of Brits polled said they would sacrifice a holiday so they could afford to furnish their new home.

The poll found that a quarter (25%) of young cash-strapped Brits (aged 23-34) admitted that when faced with the financial stress of furnishing an new home they would consider using a credit card.

Others admitted to borrowing from family and friends and using rent-to-own shops, which can charge high interest rates, and can can result in families paying far more than the cost of the original item had they bought it outright.

Lower-income families were more than twice as likely to buy goods from a rent-to-own shop and pay back in instalments over several years than wealthier households, with 9% and 4% of these groups being willing to consider this respectively.

It’s not just moving costs that are leaving people penniless, as millions of Britons admit struggling to keep their homes in good condition.

In fact, in spite of the perceived home improvement boom, almost 60% of Brits claim the state of their homes had either worsened or stayed the same over the past five years, with one in 12 saying that they spent nothing at all on maintenance or household items over the past year.

Nevertheless, many Britons are still house-proud and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses remains, with 38% saying they would be embarrassed if guests spotted an essential household item was broken.

Even when people do spend money on their home, many do so without the means to pay for it.

Nearly a third (32%) of 24-35 year olds – and 21% of all British adults – feel they could not actually afford what they had spent on the general upkeep of their home in the last year.

The report also highlights how low-income families are suffering from a poverty penalty that forces them to pay more for essential goods and other services.

It details how some vulnerable families struggle even to afford basic household goods such as beds and fridges.

David Holmes, chief executive of Family Action, said: “Moving to a new home may be a life changing experience for some but it is also one which brings with it a range of unforeseen and unexpectedly high costs for many.

“We know that good homes are a key building block of a good family life but with the cost of everyday essentials rising faster than income and squeezing family budgets, it is hardly surprising that many people do not consider investment in maintenance and household furniture to be a spending priority.

“This report also demonstrates the importance of providing information and budgeting support particularly to low-income families regarding credit and high interest loans and the impact they can have on families’ overall expenditure.”

Sarah Porretta, head of Lloyds Banking Group’s Money for Life programme, said: “As this report shows, for many families across Britain money management is an increasingly vital life skill with families today facing all sorts of unexpected financial pressures.

“Money for Life’s partnership with Family Action is designed to look into the issues facing many British families and support and help them to develop the knowledge and confidence to manage their money well – in this case helping families to prepare for the unforeseen pressures of moving home and maintaining it. We are working with Family Action to deliver free, face-to-face workshops to low income and disadvantaged households around the country, and our employees are committed to helping families with issues that affect their daily lives.”

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