Low-income families should be given help to cope with increased emotional and financial pressures over the school holidays, a Child Poverty Action Group report, commissioned by Glasgow Life - an arms-length body of Glasgow City Council, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health said. Some families felt the strain when free school meals were not available. This could be exacerbated when working hours were cut for childcare reasons and families resorted to borrowing. The research highlighted the problems posed by the extra costs of feeding children over school holiday periods when free school lunches were no longer available. Lack of affordable childcare, leading to reduced working hours was also identified as an issue. The report states that subsidised travel and free activities and lunches could help struggling families.
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said "The pressures low-income families face are magnified during school holidays," he said. "It's harder for parents to juggle work and childcare and it's harder to feed, clothe and keep children warm, never mind give them the kind of holiday experience better off families take for granted.”
Many families also reported borrowing money during holidays to pay for the additional costs of heating and clothing. Parents also spoke of the guilt they experienced at not being able to meet children's expectations.
One parent told researchers: "You are living just to survive not to actually live a valued life. You just have to live through each day and thank God it's one less."
Another added "It's worse at Christmas when it's cold and I have to put more money in my gas to heat my house. When the kids are in school I don't use my heating and I save it for them coming home."