How much does it cost to bring up a child?

November 16, 2010

One of the biggest criticisms of the way the Child Support Agency operates in the UK is in the way it works out your child maintenance payments based on a percentage of your earnings, instead of what it actually costs to raise a child. So for example if your take home pay, after tax, is £1,000 at the end of the month and you’re paying for three children you’ll pay 25%, £250, for those children.

If however your take home pay after tax is £4,000, you’ll have to pay £1,000 each month to the CSA… and so on and so forth, regardless of how much the parent with care actually needs to raise a child. This unfair system means that non resident parents aren’t encouraged in any way to better themselves and earn more money because they know their CSA payments will increase accordingly.

So, the question is; while the CSA believes that one child costs 15% of the non resident parent’s income per month to raise, how much does it actually cost to bring up a child? How much money do you believe a parent with care should receive to raise a child?

Let’s assume we’re not talking about London here as costs in London can be a lot more. Let’s try and assume we’re looking at an average location within the UK in which a single parent, with a child, is living. What does it cost each month to raise a child?

Thoughts people?


  • nikki says:

    Think that all cases have to be viewed individually. A standard of living needs to be met,i.e Food,clothes,clubs,education….Responsibilities does not stop at conception..Financially,morally or any other.

  • Rach says:

    oh i definitely agree that all cases are unique and should be viewed individually but that will only ever happen if it goes through a court system. Whats the child allowance for a lone parent on benefit? think its in region of £30 a week extra so if government thinks it costs say £30 a week to raise a child then divide it by 2 so pwc and nrp are paying equal amounts and thats £15 maintenance payable! see its that easy its fair as thats what government states its costs to raise a child.

  • trish says:

    they did not use though figures in my case!

  • Martin Jock Laird says:

    It costs me more than normal as my kids mother likes her holidays in the sun. Strange I thought the money was for my daughter

  • Lee Hughes says:

    That is a common misconception……

  • Jason Wallace says:

    This really is a tough one – how much it "costs" to bring up a kid will vary upon the amount of income that the family has, so is irrevocably linked to "ability to pay". However, this does not address issues either end of the pay spectrum – children of parents where the father, for instance earns relatively little suffer while the mothers of children whose fathers earn more unduly benefit from the system too.From the father's perspective it is right, fair and reasonable to be allowed sufficient money to live on and sufficient enough to, for example commute to work. The system does not make allowance for this which is patently unfair.Fathers are placed into a position where to attempt to forge a career is pointless and to try and set up a business is impossible. Take, for example someone earning just over £40k pa with a wife who does not work, and an ex wife. So, this person pays tax at 40% and then on top of this has to pay NI payments, meaning that the effective rate of tax is about 45%. Now if this fella has children then his additional liability could very well be an additional 19%, bringing the effective rate of tax to almost 65%. So, if this fella is offered a promotion, paying an extra £5000 – that's an over 10% pay rise, he will see £34 weekly in his pay packet. If he will then lose things like overtime then this is just not worth it.I am all for fathers taking responsibility for their children but it does seem to me that somewhere we need a sliding scale to enable parents to live.

  • Dean Stewart says:

    Try living with the old system,I'm paying £112 a week for one child..Legalised theft.

  • Jason Wallace says:

    @Dean – bet your ex loves you! However you cut this cake it's going to be unfair. These days many families need two incomes to keep a single household going. If you split that family into two households then the maths just does not work.

  • Phil Marsh says:

    £164 a week on the old system with two children. Only earn £364 a week with 2 step children who's father pays nowt.

  • Dean Stewart says:

    Jason,my ex wife has remarried and had two more kids and lord it up on holiday every year while i scrape by.I accept i'm resposible for paying for my child,which i'm refused access bt the way,£112 is just ripping the arse out of things.

  • Juliet-Amber Jolliffe says:

    The cost of bringing up my children is the difference between me being able to work full-time with no day to day responsibilities (as my ex does) and me working part-time to take care of our children, get them to school, be there in the school holidays etc.Quite simple really and this applies to most PWC. The few PWC that you mention above are the minority – most single mums don't have holidays in the sun or spend lots of money on themselves – the cost of living and providing for their children is too high.

  • Juliet-Amber Jolliffe says:

    Dean – if your ex wife's new husband can afford to take his wife and kids on holiday every year – what does that have to do with you? You're right, you still have to provide for your child and your access issues are with your ex wife – not the new partner. Why are you refused access? Even drug addicts get access to their kids through the courts – no father is denied unless there is a child protection issue. It just means applying to court (and you can represent yourself at no cost) and a judge will give you access.

  • Lee Hughes says:

    If the government screws the NRP then they should do like wise to the PWC. If the PWC's position improves, i.e. they meet someone and live together then they now only pay half the rent, bills and should receive less off the NRP. After all if the NRP's position improves, they wouldn't hesistate to screw them!!!

  • Mark Moore says:

    Isn't it strange that my wifes income is taken into account for maintenance I pay my ex wife, yet my ex wifes husbands income isn't? it's no wonder the ex wife can afford to go on holiday with her husband, yet I can't take my wife on holiday.

  • John says:

    What has providing finance for raising a child got to do with a Politician, an Executive or a Grade2 office clerk? Answer = Absolutely nothing!

    It is for parents to make these decisions!

    All that is happening is the Government are ‘scamming’ money out of people who have all ready paid into the tax system.

    Executives are ‘blagging’ the taxpayer for large salaries+bonuses and gold plated pensions…….and civil servants are being kept in ‘cushy’ jobs with their salaries, bonuses and pensions!

    However, much it costs to raise a child (and by the way before anyone starts, I have raised a child on my own), it has nothing to do with any of the above!

  • Ewan Hyde says:

    Juliet, I've been denied access to my two kids for 13 years now, despite 6 orders from the courts, and having paid nearly 26 grand over six years to get access. The kids were placed on the at risk register because of the pwc's emotional abuse, and my ex was threatened with police prosecution for wasting their time with false allegations. I have to cough up 610 quid a month and can barely pay my bills while they get foreign holidays. When the pwc refuses to cooperate with the courts, the nrp is screwed.

  • Juliet-Amber Jolliffe says:

    Lee – I agree that if a PWC enters a new relationship or gets a good job and has more money spare – the NRP maintenance should lower. But also don't forget the new partner may also be paying maintenance for a past relationship. I wouldn't see it as the government 'screwing' me, but being fair. Mark – you must be on CSA1. Your wife's income is only taken account to work out your protected income, not to see how much maintenance you have to pay.Ewan, I am sorry your ex-wife is so awful. I hope they are now at an age where they can contact you themselves and you can build on the future.

  • Mark Moore says:

    Yes, I am on CSA1. Although they like to tell me I am actually on CSA2 but on the 'old rules' as CSA1/2 are the computer systems they use. I usually have to speak to a 'special' case worker who is au fait with CSA1 as most of them aren't.Yes, they have also told me that my wifes income is only used to assess my protected income. I would have agreed with that too, if they hadn't have raised my assessment amount when I included my wifes income, maintenance received from her ex husband AND tax credits. They also raised my assessment when my ex wife informed them (without proof) that I had an extra £400 per month coming in from 'other income' which was a lie, and I had to provide them with proof that it was a lie. Yet they acted on information with no proof attached?I just find it abbhorrent that my wifes income is included at all, when ex wifes income from her husband is not. Surely family money is just money? The point of the matter is, why is she regarded as having 'no assessable income' whilst my wife is?

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  • Michael Hallett says:

    no father is denied unless there is a child protection issue. It just means applying to court (and you can represent yourself at no cost) and a judge will give you access.Absolute nonsense !!! dream on.

  • Michael Hallett says:

    How much is the benefit system allowance for each child or second child etc. For a family on benefits ?Then half of that is the minimum a NRP should pay if they are earning.Simple answer.

  • Juliet-Amber Jolliffe says:

    Michael – my partner represented himself at court and now sees his children every other weekend – so no, this is not nonsense and can only go on my own personal experience.Don't really understand your point above – why should a child only receive a minimum payment as if the NRP is on benefits when in fact the NRP is earning? Doesn't really make sense.

  • Juliet-Amber Jolliffe says:

    Mark – I am in no way a supporter of the CSA – just had a long battle as a NRPP and a PWC. I agree that your ex wife's family income should also be considered – as yours is when making maintenance payment.

  • taylor says:

    Get real at least the family are spending the cash on the kids and wisely at that Children need experiences and opportunities and there must be child protection issues to have been denied access Im sure you wouldnt have been paying that ammount for long and you havent mentioned some payments include arrears

  • taylor says:

    Lets face it your kids you should pay What a load of rubbish im sure if that much money had been spent then you would have access no smoke without fire i say What did you do kids dont make things up it sounds like lies to me on your part

  • lisa-faye says:

    Taylor My partner does not see his kids due to his ex has moved and refuses to say where they are 10 wks ago due to she now gets the full amount from CSA he has never harrmned his children in anyway and we have a child together, we have seen solicitors but he earns to much for legal aid even tho by the time CSA get there hands on our money every month we can not afford solicitors I can assure you its not that easy to get access to your kids and his ex is a liar which don’t help. to slander some 1 and say no smoke without fire is liable and uncalled for due to you do not know the circumstances.
    even if you can represent yourself it still costs money to go to court in the 1st place money that we don’t have now due to being minus £200pm after the cost of living and CSA take every penny from us. His ex has just bought a property is on her 3rd relationship shes been married since she split from my partner and enjoys a great lifestyle which we are paying for.

    BTW answer to question about how much does a child cost to raise £18 according to government and child benefit.

    each case should be looked at individually as every childs need is different and the fact we know 100% that she will have no need to spend her own money on the children whilst she recieveing this amount from us and child benefit so only the father in thi instance has to support his children, she a work all day she gets child care costs paid for and sees them for an hour during wk so why my partner paying so much???

  • Sally says:

    I too am an NRPP and completely agree that the NRP should pay for their child but it should be based on what the NRP can afford after essential living expenses!!

    My partner paid his ex an agreed amount for almost 3 years (more than the CSA calculator stated,which he struggled to pay each month) in a private arrangement but when we moved in together she went to the CSA to see if she would get more money (as someone had told her that my income would be included in the assessment)…. it backfired and she was given a re-assessment that was less that my partner was paying her. She then reduced the amount of overnight stays to increase the amount of money he paid with absolutely NO cosideration for the kids. We went through a year of absolute hell with his ex and the kids were emotional wrecks because of it.. 3 years on and we are all still trying to recover but the hardest part of it for me, is the breakdown in the relationship between my partner and his kids….. the mother has caused irreparable damage because of her greed for more money….

    My partners kids get everything they need and more… they never go without anything but the mother initially denied that my partner had ever paid her any money and told the kids that she paid for everything…. my partner had to show his daughter his bank statements to prove that he had paid his ex/her mother X amount every month…

    It is absolutely appauling that one parent has this kind of control over another parent!! the rules and criteria for child maintenance is wrong and unfair…. It needs to be changed!!

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