Hundreds of thousands of children could be suffering mental and physical health issues due to the cost of living crisis, a poll suggests.
A quarter (24 per cent) of parents with children under 11 said they were worried soaring living costs driven by double-digit inflation were causing mental health issues for their offspring, the YouGov survey for Save The Children UK suggested.
Nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of parents meanwhile said their children were suffering physical health problems.
Of those, they said a poor diet (53 per cent), poor sleep (33 per cent) and colds and flu (55 per cent) were among their concerns.
Parents said they were being forced into lifestyle changes to manage their household budgets, including taking their children on fewer days out, removing them from after school clubs, and giving them a cheaper diet with less variety.
Lower-income families were the worst affected, prompting calls from Save the Children to call for further support for struggling families.
Nearly four in 10 parents (37 per cent) with a household income of £30,000 or less said their child’s mental health had been affected by the UK’s economic situation.
The figure rose to 41 per cent for those in receipt of universal credit, while nearly half (47 per cent) of those earning between £15,000 and £19,000 noticed an effect on their child’s mental health.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is set to use Wednesday’s Budget to extend Government support for energy bills until the end of June to help households continuing to struggle with the cost of living crisis.
But Save the Children urged the Chancellor to increase child-related benefits, alongside childcare reforms to help parents back to work.
Becca Lyon, the charity’s head of child poverty, said: “No child deserves to feel the effects of a crisis that has nothing to do with them.
“The cost-of-living crisis has put families through unimaginable stress and we are deeply concerned a quarter of parents across all income groups think it’s had an impact on their child’s mental health.
“For those on universal credit and lower incomes, the numbers are even higher and we know those families spend a greater proportion of their incomes on food and bills and have much less money spare.
“Parents are trying everything they can to put their children first, skipping their own meals, going without heating and their own essentials, but it’s clear families feel their young ones are suffering in such tough financial times.
“The Chancellor must recognise that the cost-of-living crisis is not over, and that the Spring Budget should provide further support for struggling families.
“Jeremy Hunt should increase child-related benefits, alongside introducing childcare reforms that will support parents back into work.”
A Treasury spokesman said: “We recognise the impact that rising prices are having at home, which is why we are providing significant support over this year and next.
“This includes holding down energy bills, uplifting benefits and the state pension in line with inflation, increasing the National Living Wage, as well as delivering hundreds of pounds in direct cash payments to millions of vulnerable households.
“Tackling inflation is this Government’s number one priority, with a plan to halve inflation this year and lay the foundations for the long-term growth that will improve living standards for everyone.”
YouGov polled 2,008 parents of children aged 0-11 between 27 January and 1 February online.