Four in 10 couples have shelved plans to start a family because they can't afford it, according to research from the Skipton Building Society.
A survey of 2,412 childless couples showed that 901 have been delaying having children for the past two years due to the poor state of their finances. Of these couples, 47 per cent say they are still saving up to buy a house in which to raise their children, while 22 per cent are looking for job security before going ahead. The rising costs of utilities, petrol and food have also been quoted as key reasons why couples are postponing plans to start a family.
A spokeswoman for Skipton, said: "The credit crunch has had a devastating effect on traditional family structures. People can no longer have children as and when they want them."
Meanwhile, the Nationwide's consumer confidence survey added to the economic gloom. It found that consumers in April were less optimistic about the economy, their jobs and family finances than they were in March. The recent announcement that the UK is now in recession is likely to add to this malaise.
"It is not surprising that confidence remains fragile, with the economy shrinking over the past six months and labour market conditions still weak," said Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist.