Hard-up parents turned away by children

Multi-generational homes trend could be reversed

The number of families living in multi-generational homes has risen over the last decade, but the current economic climate is making people think again about opening their doors to elderly parents.

Even parents in financial difficulty could be turned away, research from the AA's Home Emergency Response service shows as part of its State of the Nation's Homes series of reports.1

With high bills and poor pensions it's no surprise that many older people may be having money troubles.

Tom Stringer, head of Home Emergency Response

Only 47% of the AA customers surveyed agreed that people should find a place in their own home for parents with money troubles. Those aged 55–64 are least likely to take in their parents (41%), whereas under 35s are the most likely to open their doors to mum and dad (62%).

Five per cent of the over 65s surveyed say they live with a child, which if scaled up to national level would be around 3.1m.2 Meanwhile figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show a rise of 20% of 20–34 year olds moving back home between 1997 and 2011.3 Although the rise in this type of household is likely due to the financial benefits it can bring, the pressure of looking after an extra person could also push a family into the red.

It isn't just lack of money which concerns those facing financial problems, but advice on areas such as budgeting and benefits too. Nearly eight out of ten (79%) respondents think there should be more financial help and advice available for people who have difficulties running their home. Older people looking to move could be in for a tough time as 88% felt that it is harder than ever to buy a home.

Tom Stringer, head of the AA's Home Emergency Response service said: "While the plight of first-time buyers is well-known, we don't often think about the financial hardship facing the older generation who may be property rich and cash poor.

"In tough times it can be a comfort to parents to know that they will have somewhere to go if the cash runs out. With high bills and poor pensions it's no surprise that many older people may be having money troubles.

"Taking in a parent can be a big decision and it will depend on family circumstances. Those with older parents may feel that if their parent's health is deteriorating they will be too difficult to look after. But children under 35 who haven't long since cut the apron strings appear to be more idealistic."

Advice if you're having financial difficulties

Citizens Advice Bureau
A free, independent and impartial service which can advise what to do in situations relating to debt, benefits, employment and housing among others. Find your local CBA branch.

The Money Advice Service
An independent organisation set up by the government to give free and unbiased advice. Their website has cut-back and money-stretcher calculators, and an online advisor is available to talk to. See moneyadviceservice.org.uk for more information.

Money Advice Plus Services
The charity delivers free and confidential money and debt advice to people with financial difficulties. Visit moneyadviceplus.com or call 01323 635999.

National Debtline
Part of the Money Advice Trust, it offers free, confidential and independent advice on a range of debts via email and telephone. Visit nationaldebtline.co.uk or call 0808 808 4000.

StepChange Debt Charity
A debt advice organisation which can help set up a debt management plan, as well as offering advice on equity release and utility switching. Visit stepchange.org or call 0800 1381111.

19 February 2013

1 Populus interviewed 1,291 AA members aged 18+ from its online AA Home Panel during 1–16 November 2012. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

2 UK population estimate 63.2 million, 2011 – ONS.

3 Young Adults Living With Parents in the UK, 2011 – ONS.