British families depend on £53bn of intergenerational support just to get by
Almost a quarter (24%) of UK adults have received financial support from family members in the last year, according to a new report from the Social Market Foundation.
The report, ‘Britain’s Family Bank’ reveals that individuals receive financial support worth `an estimated £53bn per year from family members with the average amount received being £4,202 annually per person.
While popular commentary suggests that payments from the “Bank of Mum and Dad” are used to get on the property ladder, in fact, just 7% of people who were given financial support from a family member in the last year were given it to buy a home.
By far the most common reason for providing support is to help family members meet the daily cost of living (23%); the next most common purpose for money was to help pay the bills, such as gas and electricity (11%).
In total, the research found that 27% of people with adult children are providing them with on-going financial help, in many cases into their thirties, forties and even fifties.
One in ten people in their forties are receiving regular financial support from their parents.
Transfers up the age range are also not uncommon. One in ten of those aged 60-plus with living parents provide them with regular financial support.
The study, which was sponsored by the Post Office, revealed that recipients report that they cannot cope without family financial help (38%).
Many report that family support gives them piece of mind (38%) and long-term financial security (25%). Support is not limited to just the wealthy, with payments to adult children common among parents on lower wages, including a third (32%) of those in lower skilled occupations – including jobs such as cleaners, retail staff, care workers and lorry drivers.
The report also highlights the lack of advice or financial schemes tailored towards family financial interactions. This is even though many people worry about the long-term repercussions of giving money to family members: 21% of people expect to provide support to older family members with the costs of retirement; and 37% of those aged over 55 who provide help to family members report that they are running down their savings and pensions to do so.
There is a risk that the complexity of such decisions overwhelms consumers, a particular concern given the low take-up of financial advice.
Four in ten (38%) agree that ‘I know that it is important to plan ahead for my financial future and that of my wider family but I have not taken the necessary steps’.
The majority have not accessed advice and guidance that relates to them and their wider family, while a quarter of all respondents (24%) reported that they hadn’t accessed advice or guidance but that they would value receiving it. Only a small minority received advice and guidance either from a professional adviser, a bank, charity or other source.
Given this increasing but hidden phenomenon, the report recommends that:
- Politicians should break the taboo and open a more honest conversation about how families share their financial resources and what families need to prepare for.
- Financial guidance and advice should be geared around the individual and the family to reflect the reality of how people make decisions.
- New savings schemes should be developed for families, with a fifth (20%) of savers setting money aside for a family member.
SMF Research Director and report co-author, Nigel Keohane said:
“This research shows that, for the most part, financial help from parents isn’t about well-off families passing wealth down the generations. It’s about people helping adult children and others, some of them in their 40s and above, just to get by. Many people just couldn’t live day-to-day without support from the “family bank”.
For many parents, helping children is a source of happiness, but the scale and importance of these wealth transfers demand more engagement with the issue from politicians and regulators. This should start with stronger efforts from politicians to help modern Britain break the taboo about talking money and making sure that appropriate advice is available.”
Owen Woodley, CEO Post Office Financial Services & Telecoms commented:
“So much has changed in recent years which has directly affected how we live our lives and in turn how we manage our finances. As a result, financial interdependence across generations is growing and becoming more complex. At Post Office we want to recognise these changing needs and do all that we can to ensure all are supported to get the most out of today while also setting themselves up for the future. As a financial services provider we’re committed to developing financial products that help solve real problems British consumers are having and are proud to work with the Social Market Foundation to examine the implications of our interconnected financial future.”
The SMF’s report is based on the following sources:
- Analysis of the official Understanding Society dataset from Mainstage Wave 7 (2015-2017) to identify the provision of regular financial support from parents to their adult children and vice versa.
- Analysis of the Office for National Statistics’ Wealth and Assets Survey dataset from Wave 5 (2014-2016) to identify savers who set money aside for other family members.
- Analysis of a specially-commissioned poll carried out by Opinium. This was an online survey of 2,000 UK adults. The results are weighted to nationally representative criteria. The survey took place between 7th and 11th June 2018.
About the SMF:
The Social Market Foundation (SMF) is a non-partisan think tank. We believe that fair markets, complemented by open public services, increase prosperity and help people to live well. We conduct research and run events looking at a wide range of economic and social policy areas, focusing on economic prosperity, public services and consumer markets. The SMF is resolutely independent, and the range of backgrounds and opinions among our staff, trustees and advisory board reflects this.
The SMF retains complete editorial independence of its publications.
About the Post Office
About Post Office: Post Office Limited has an unrivalled national network of over 11,500 branches across the UK, more than all the high street banks combined, and sits at the heart of many communities across the country.
It provides around 170 different services and products spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards. Post Office also offers Government services, telephony, foreign currency, travel insurance and mail services.
99.7 of people live within three miles of their nearest Post Office outlet. For many rural communities the Post Office is the only retail outlet. Post Offices remain highly valued and trusted and are the focal point for many communities. For more information, visit www.postoffice.co.uk