People are putting off settling down and having children because of the rising cost of living overseen by the Government, a Labour frontbencher has said.
Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds was speaking at a fringe event at her party’s conference in Brighton.
She said a combination of factors that would hit household budgets meant that only those who were well-off could afford to start a family or have more children.
Ms Dodds said: “There is evidence that quite a lot of people are putting off ‘settling down’ because of cost pressures.
“So they’re feeling like they’re not able to start having a family because of those cost pressures… they don’t know if they’re going to be in the same accommodation for a longer period, or they’re putting off having other children.
“That is a phenomenon that is really quite disturbing if we think through the implications of it, that actually it’s only those better-off people who would be able to have either a family at the age that they would want to have it at or the number of children that they themselves would want to have.
“I really think that’s quite disturbing.”
Ms Dodds told the event that struggling financially and being in debt was “a feature of life” for many families before the pandemic.
But coronavirus had exacerbated the crisis, she said, citing rising private rents, a lack of social housing, the cost of childcare and utilities, the cut to the Universal Credit uplift, and the rise in National Insurance.
She said: “My problem with the current situation is (that) the structural factors driving what is essentially a gap between people’s incomes and their outgoings are not being grasped.”
She added: “We are seeing a number of measures, choices made by Government, that will make that situation worse.”
And she said Government ministers needed to stop framing Universal Credit as a benefit only for those out of work.
Ms Dodds said: “We do need to recognise the fact that many people will need that support from social security.
“You still have the Prime Minister and Chancellor describing Universal Credit as if it were uniquely support for people who are not in work, we know that’s not true.”
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