Birthdays on the Breadline, a new report released today by family support service leaders Family Action, unwraps the story of how parents are busting their budgets for their children’s birthday parties, and the sacrifices they are making to do so.

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

Combining findings from national polling and focus groups, the report reveals how many families are driven to spend on birthday parties because of increasing pressure to impress other parents, friends and family, as well as to compensate for their own memories of poverty in childhood.

National polling by YouGov reveals that 44 per cent of British parents surveyed said that they cannot afford to give their children a birthday party, increasing to 51 per cent among lower income families.

Yet despite the financial pressures placed on many households to make ends meet, the report found that 27 per cent of parents believe it is their duty to organise a party for their child, even if they cannot afford it.

David Holmes, Chief Executive of Family Action, said: “Paying for children’s birthday parties is clearly a source of financial stress for many families, even before the costs of birthday presents are taken into account.

“This financial stress is magnified for low income families who may find they are spending the equivalent of a week’s living costs for the whole family on a party for a single child.

“If you then add in the additional financial pressures that low income families in particular are facing from low wage rises and the squeeze on welfare, paying for children’s parties is no cause for celebration.”

The report is published in partnership with Money for Life, Lloyds Banking Group’s personal money management programme, which has joined forces with the charity to support vulnerable families through everyday financial challenges by improving their money skills.

Family Action also carried out focus groups across its services in England to find out how the low income and disadvantaged families it works with are coping with budgets for birthday celebrations.

Almost three quarters of these families have less than £100 a week to live on after housing costs, council taxes and utilities are paid.

Two fifths spend at least £100 on the party and a similar number who have less than £100 a week to live on said they spend more than this on the birthday party.

These low-income parents also highlighted the trend of taking cakes and party bags into school for children’s classmates as a factor piling on even more pressure on already stretched budgets.

Meanwhile, focus groups also revealed a concern from parents to protect their children from potential playground bullying by providing a birthday celebration they cannot necessarily afford.

Sarah Porretta, Head of Lloyds Banking Group’s Money for Life programme, said: “As this report shows, 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 support more families to develop the knowledge and confidence to manage their money well.

“Our employees are volunteering their expertise in face-to-face workshops in communities around the country, helping families with the issues that affect their daily lives, such as how to run a birthday party on a budget.”

Do you struggle financially with giving your child a birthday party? Check out 12 Tips For Organising a Child’s Birthday Party on a Budget.