By Donald Hirsch and Dr Noel Smith
This is a report of a qualitative research project looking at parents’ views of which items are necessities for families with children. The reason for undertaking this work was to allow the updating of the questions used to measure material deprivation on the Family Resources Survey. This updating is required because what is considered a necessity does change over time and the questions on the Family Resources Study need to reflect this.
Eight focus groups of parents were run in summer 2009 - with a mix of income levels, couple and lone parents, mothers and fathers, and ages of children. The 21 items we currently use to calculate material deprivation for children, such as home contents insurance and an annual holiday away from home for a week, were used as a basis for the discussions. Further possible items came out of the discussions. This showed that there is a wide range of items that are considered necessities by people, with those who were parents giving priority to social relationships in families and children’s long-term health.