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New mothers in the UK hit by coronavirus poverty as '40% forced to cut maternity leave’

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·2-min read
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Feet of new born Baby in Hands of parents
For one in six couples, both parents had to take less time off because they couldn’t afford to stay at home with their baby due to the reduction in their salary, according to a survey. Photo: Getty

New parents in the UK are being forced to go back to work early because they can’t afford the time off, with 40% cutting short their maternity leave, a new study has revealed.

A fifth (21%) of new parents said it is impossible to survive on maternity/paternity pay alone, according to the survey of 2,000 UK mums and dads by financial comparison site Money.co.uk.

Over a third of all new mothers polled declared that their maternity leave was shorter than they had planned as a result of financial concerns.

Almost one in five new mums (18%) took half or less than half — just five or six months — of their maternity leave allowance off work because of money worries, the survey found.

For one in six couples, both parents had to take less time off because they couldn’t afford to stay at home with their baby due to the reduction in their salary.

READ MORE: One in five Brits have no emergency savings

A further 25% of new parents said one of them had to cut the length of their maternity or paternity leave due to financial concerns.

More than 41% of new parents said they got into financial difficulties due to their reduced income during their maternity and paternity leave.

“Taking into account the reduction in their earnings and allowing for any savings they were forced to use to supplement their income, a quarter of new parents say that taking maternity or paternity leave cost them between £5,000 [$6,526] and £10,000,” said Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at Money.co.uk.

“Many parents have said they have been forced to switch to a budget supermarket, use less energy at home, cancel holidays and subscriptions like Sky TV or Netflix in order to manage their finances more economically during parental leave.

“In fact, 15% say they maxed out their credit cards to get them through it financially.”

READ MORE: 17.5 million single Brits under more financial pressure

Over half (55%) of mums and dads polled said they found maternity or paternity leave difficult because of their reduced income.

Six in 10 parents admitted they had underestimated how much it would cost to have a baby and a quarter (26%) said that the financial impact of having their first child was so great that they are unlikely to have any more children.

However, the coronavirus lockdown has led to one in 10 UK couples planning a new baby, according to Money.co.uk.

WATCH: What is universal basic income?

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