Thousands of families will not be packing their buckets and spades this bank holiday because they cannot afford to take their children to the beach.
In new research that highlights fears that the wealth divide is growing, Barnardo’s found that one British family in five is too poor to make a city-to-coast journey.
Their study was one example published today of the impact that the austerity cuts are having on those at the bottom of the income scale. Another was figures from the Labour Party showing that local councils in areas with the worst social problems have suffered substantially bigger budget cuts than those in the wealthiest areas.
The children’s charity worked out the probable cost of a day out at the nearest seaside resort for families of four from various towns or cities, assuming that the parents bought the cheapest available rail tickets, stocked up with sun cream, and fed the family on fish and chips and ice cream. On that basis, they reckoned a day in Bournemouth, on the Dorset coast, would cost a family from Aylesbury £172, a day out in Rhyl, in North Wales, would cost a Birmingham family £117, a similar trip from Manchester to Blackpool would cost £77, and from Bristol to Weston-super-Mare would cost £41.
The average disposable income of the poorest 20 per cent of UK households has been calculated at £5,506 – just over £100 a week – the lowest in western Europe. Barnardo’s calculated that once the basic necessities had been paid for, there would not be enough left for even the cheapest excursions.
The charity’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “Family holidays have a special place in the childhood memory box. The Prime Minister has put family life at the heart of government and promoted the ‘staycation’. Yet for hundreds of thousands of families struggling to make ends meet this weekend, a trip to the pier is but a pipe-dream.”
Figures from Labour show that people in the biggest areas of poverty are being hit the hardest. They reveal that cuts in council budgets in the 10 areas classed the most deprived in England were 16 times greater than in the 10 least deprived areas.
By the time the Government has been in power for five years, past and planned cuts in government support for Liverpool, which has England’s highest “deprivation rating”, will have come to £807 per head of population, according to the figures.