“adult Dependents” Cost Parents £34 Billion In The Past Year

12 September 2011

Adult-children have cost their parents £34 billion in loans and financial gifts in the past year, according to new research(1)completed for Sainsbury’s Life Insurance. The findings reveal that that this generation of financially-strapped adults, dubbed the ‘adult-dependants’ by Sainsbury’s Finance, is still financially dependent on their parents into their forties in many cases. Indeed, according to the research over 13 million parents still give their adult offspring financial handouts.

The study reveals that more than £1.6 billion has been lent or given to children over the age of 18 for tuition fees and student living expenses by their parents in the past year.  Sainsbury’s Finance, which offers life insurance(2), is warning that with university becoming increasingly expensive in terms of all-round costs as well as just tuition fees, parents should consider how their children would cope with the financial burden should the worst happen and one of them were to pass away. The research reveals that over half of parents (53%), who fund their adult-children to the tune of £2,480 a year on average, do not have life insurance.

The supermarket bank’s findings reveal that parents have also lent their grown-up offspring £8.4 billion for mortgage or rental deposits or payments, £3.5 billion for home improvements and £2.2 billion to pay off debts. Some 3.5 million parents have also handed their ‘adult-dependant’ children money to help with their grand-children’s schooling or other expenses.

The study indicates some interesting changes in behaviour as ‘adult-dependants’ get older. Between the ages of 18 and 29, female ‘adult-dependants’ are more needy, having on average borrowed £2,427 from their parents in the past 12 months, compared to just £1,113 for males in the same age group. However, women in their thirties are slightly more self-sufficient, being given an average of £2,017 by the parents in the past year. By contrast, males in their thirties become even more financially reliant on their parents, with those taking financial help receiving an average of £5,542 in the past year.

More than a million parents have given financial handouts to their children over the age of 45 in the past year according to the findings, giving an average of £2,437 each in loans and financial gifts. Parents have given a further 1.7 million ‘adult-dependants’ in their early forties an average of £1,882 each in the past 12 months.

Helen Williams, Head of Sainsbury’s Life Insurance said: “It’s a likely assumption that the need for life insurance lessens for parents as their children grow up, but a combination of rising university and living costs, a tough job market and a difficult climate for first time buyers means children are staying, to some extent, financially dependent on their parents often well into adulthood.

“It’s important that parents consider whether their children could continue with the considerable costs of being a student, for example, should the unthinkable happen and a parent died. While many universities offer scholarships and grants to cover sudden financial hardship and help students continue their education, there are a huge number of other costs associated with being a student or young graduate and life insurance can offer extra peace of mind.”


Age of ‘adult dependent’ Number of parents who have lent or given money to their adult children in this age group in the past year Total money lent or given in the past year Average amount of money lent or given in the past 12 months
18-24 4,198,000 £7,876,490,000 £1,876.16
25-29 2,387,000 £3,959,824,000 £1,659.02
30-34 2,039,000 £5,238,058,000 £2,568.99
35-39 2,398,000 £11,349,196,000 £4,733.52
40-44 1,741,000 £3,276,419,000 £1,882.39
45+ 1,008,000 £2,455,909,000 £2,436.62
All “adult dependents” 13,770,000 £34,155,896,000 £2,480.44


Sainsbury’s Finance is urging people to shop around for their life insurance and if they already have a policy, to review their premiums to make sure they have the best cover at a competitive price (of course consumers should not cancel existing insurance until a replacement policy is accepted).

Helen Williams added: “Life insurance is one of the most important financial products you can buy if you have dependants so it is important that you invest time to find the right cover for you at a competitive price. People should ideally review their premiums regularly particularly if their circumstances have changed significantly.”

Life insurance premiums, through Sainsbury’s Finance, which start from as little as £5 a month (which is 16p per day)(2), are among the most competitive available and regularly appear in best-buy tables.

When you know what cover you require, please contact Sainsbury’s Finance for a quote or further information on 0800 027 7166 (calls may be monitored and recorded). Further information is also available at or at Sainsbury’s supermarkets. Sainsbury’s Finance does not offer financial advice.


For further information, please contact:

Ian Morris/Tom Wilson
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
020 7638 9571

Notes to Editors:

The information contained in this press release is intended solely for journalists and should not be relied upon by private investors or any other persons to make financial decisions.

(1) ICM interviewed a random sample of 2,008 adults aged 18+. The interviews were conducted via an online omnibus survey between 10th – 11th August 2011.  Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.  ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information available

(2) Sainsbury’s Finance Life Cover (Level Term Assurance and Mortgage Decreasing Term Assurance) is provided by Legal & General Assurance Society Limited. The cost of life cover will depend on the customer’s age, term of the policy, options selected and state of health.

Sainsbury’s Finance:

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