Why a Pitstone mum believes parents should charge their offspring rent if they return to live at home

Becky Wiggins with sons Sam (left) and Charlie
Becky Wiggins with sons Sam (left) and Charlie

Pitstone mum Becky Wiggins has been used as a case study by Skipton Building Society whose new research says 2.7 million parents in the UK are taking on the financial burden of supporting their grown-up children into later life.

With an increasing number of older children returning home to mum and dad, 72% of parents admitted that household expenditure increased as a result, but just 41% say that they charge their adult children any rent to live at home.

Office of National Statistics figures reveal there has already been a 6% rise in 18-30-year olds living with their parents since 2007, indicating that parents may be putting their own savings aspirations onto the backburner.

The figures identified show that for those parents that do charge rent, £123 per month is the magic number.

With UK private monthly rent currently averaging £943 per calendar month, moving home offers some significant savings opportunities for young people.

Becky, 48, founder of parenting blog, English Mum, and a freelance journalist, has two children, one of whom has recently graduated.

With property prices high, Sam, 22, has returned to live at the family home while exploring his first career options and undertaking a number of temporary jobs.

Becky and her husband Jim have made the decision to charge Sam a “nominal amount” of £25 per week, which goes into their general spending bank account towards food and bills.

Becky says it provides Sam with “life experience and a sense of responsibility now he is an adult”, however is keen to highlight they only starting charging rent after he got himself a job.

She said: “It would be unfair to charge him while he was still on the job hunt, but he also benefits by being at home.

"Rents are really high where we are, being the commuter belt, about 30 minutes from London.

"I think a flat would cost in the region of £1,000 a month to rent.

“It can be easy to become blindsided by the excitement of having your boomerang child return home, and even easier to forget about the financial implications you’ll have to absorb to support them.

“With two grown up boys of my own – one of them a boomerang kid – I know all too well how much higher the weekly food bill can get when they come back to the nest.

"When my son came home, we had an honest and open chat, agreeing a rent figure that suited us both.

“For us this is £25 a week. It allows him to feel responsible, while saving money on the larger rents he would be paying elsewhere, but it also proves helpful for us.

“Whether it is asking them to contribute rent, or even just asking them to help out with the weekly food shop, car insurance, or petrol money – this can help make room for you to save for your own future, as well as helping them save for theirs.”

Aside from rent, Sam also supports with other tasks around the house.

“He might for instance drop us at the station, or house and dog-sit whilst we’re away” said Becky.

She added: “I save monthly in various accounts, towards holidays, emergencies etc. I also have a small personal pension.

“Sam returning home also prompted us to review our own financial situation, especially with regard to savings and planning for our future.

“For retirement, we would like to downsize at some point and be somewhere a little less rural.

"Jim is a pilot so can only fly commercially until he’s 60. I’ll probably keep writing.”

Jacqui Bateson, customer proposition manager at Skipton Building Society, said: “There’s no question that increased difficulties in the housing market are causing strain on the sandwich generation.

"Two-thirds (66%) of the parents we surveyed believe that the current property market makes it much more difficult for children to leave home, and the majority are understandably supporting their families as they try to get a foot onto the ladder.

“As a parent myself, I know that supporting the kids, whatever their age will always be a priority – but it’s just as important that we’re saving for ourselves as well.

"Whether you’re 21, 41 or 61, saving for the future is just as important.

“Having the kids return to the nest is a good opportunity to have a broader conversation about money – we actually found that many parents (47%) tend to charge their children rent primarily to help them become more familiar with money management.

"It could also be a good time to revisit your own finances and thinking about how far you’re saving for yourself, as well as being there for your children when they need you.”