Research published today by the Department for Work and Pensions explores the characteristics and circumstances of families and children in 2008. The report is based on analysis of the Families and Children Study (FACS). This is a longitudinal survey focusing on the circumstances of families in Britain. The study began in 1999, with a representative sample of all lone parents and low/moderate income couple families. From 2001 a representative sample of lone parents and all couple families with dependent children were interviewed.
FACS provides information about children, their parents and families as a whole across a wide range of subjects. The first part of the report focuses on the circumstances, lives and conditions of families, and topics covered include: family characteristics, health, education, work, income, benefits and tax credits, social capital, money management, housing and deprivation. The second part of the report focuses on the circumstances, conditions and lives of children, and topics covered include: child characteristics, health, schooling, children’s activities, childcare and child maintenance.
The report published today is: DWP Research Report No. 656 ‘Families with Children in Britain: Findings from the 2008 Families and Children Study (FACS)’ by Natalie Maplethorpe, Jenny Chanfreau, Dan Philo and Clare Tait.
The main findings are that:
- Almost one quarter (23 per cent) of children lived in a lone parent family. Lone parent families were more likely than couple families to live in social housing and to be in the lowest income quintile.
- Four out of five families had at least one parent working 16 or more hours per week (pw). 55 per cent of lone parents worked 16+ hours pw and 57 per cent of couple families had both partners doing so. Forty one per cent of lone parent households were workless compared with 5 per cent of couple households.
- One in six children (16 per cent) lived in a household where no one worked over 16 hrs per week. The majority of these (11 per cent of all children) were in lone parent households.
- Forty nine per cent of lone parents working less than 16 hrs pw reported running out of money before the end of the week or month. Thirty six per cent were worried about money ‘almost all the time’.
- Over half (58 per cent) of children with working mothers were placed in childcare. Use of informal childcare (44 per cent) was more prevalent than formal childcare (31 per cent).
- Perceptions of the affordability and quality of childcare remained more positive than negative. However, a quarter of mothers reported that there was ‘not enough childcare’ (25 per cent) and that childcare was ‘not at all affordable’ (27 per cent) in their local area. Mothers were more positive about the quality of childcare: over a half (59 per cent) said it was ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ good.
- Over half (56 per cent) of families where at least one child had a non-resident parent had an order or agreement for child support in place; and 38 per cent had an order or agreement in place and had received some maintenance payments.
- One in ten mothers had a limiting long-term illness or disability (10 per cent). They were more likely to be lone parents than couple mothers, live in social housing than owner occupiers and to be in a lower income quintile.
- Lone parent families were more than three times as likely as couple families to belong to the lowest income quintile (35 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively). The working status of the family had a strong association with the probability of having a low income.
- Lone parent families, families where no one was in work for 16 or more hours per week and families in the lowest and second income quintile were, on average, more likely to be deprived than other families.
Background to the research
- The sample was drawn from Child Benefit records. Interviews with 5,891 families with a total of 10,748 dependent children were conducted between October 2008 and January 2009. Main interviews were conducted with the ‘mother figure’ in the household, including a proxy interview about the partner.
- The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) conducted the fieldwork for the research and the analysis of FACS contained in this report.
- ‘Families With Children in Britain: Findings from the 2008 Families and children study (FACS)’ by Natalie Maplethorpe, Jenny Chanfreau, Dan Philo and Clare Tait. DWP Research Report Series No. 656 will be published in July 2010. A summary and copy of the report is available on the DWP website: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/