Bethany Osborne left home at 19, but now, at 22, she’s back in her parents’ home in Romford, using their washing machine, eating food from the fridge and watching TV on her dad’s Netflix account.
“I do my own washing if I get to the machine first. But my mum generally does it,” she admits.
The pile of dirty clothes is not just hers. She has a five-year-old and a one-year-old too.
“Buying the kids’ clothes and food – I do it sometimes,” she adds, but most of the time her mum’s got there first.
About a quarter of young adults in the UK aged 20-34 live at home, a figure which, according to the Office for National Statistics
Many returning adult children enjoy home comforts such as cooked meals, a full fridge and cleaning, as well as their bills being covered by the “hotel of mum and dad”, according to a survey by price comparison website MoneySuperMarket.
The average cost to the hoteliers – mum and dad – has gone up sharply, meaning parents are sacrificing luxuries and holidays, the survey found.
MoneySuperMarket found that last year, adult offspring were returning for an average of 9.7 months, while parents were incurring costs of around £895.
This year, the “kidults” were staying longer – just over 10 months – and costing their parents £1,640 as the householders shouldered the water, heating and electricity bills, as well as paying for takeaway meals, toiletries and food.
The price comparison site surveyed 500 adults who had moved back into their parents’ home and 500 parents who had adult children back living with them.
MoneySuperMarket’s spokeswoman, Emma Craig, says parents are under huge emotional pressure to help children struggling with their finances.
“I think what we’re seeing is more young people with more debt, so when they’re going back to their parents’, they’re coming with higher student loans, probably credit card debt, maybe payday loans.”
“So the reason parents are paying more is they’re trying to look after their children more. If your child comes home and you see them struggling financially, you feel more awkward asking them for rent or to contribute. It tugs on your heartstrings more.”
The survey found that 18% of adult children said they were moving back home because of debt, compared with 8% last year.
Moreover, 12% said it was because they had lost their job, compared with 7% last year. This year, 27% said it was because they couldn’t afford their rent, compared with 25% last year.
On top of the day-to-day spending, parents reported forking out £1,886 on redecorating, buying new furniture and upgrading their wi-fi to accommodate returning offspring.
In Bethany’s case, she doesn’t have any extra debt on top of her student loans, but her relationship with her partner broke down and as a trainee nurse she couldn’t afford to rent an apartment on her own.
With seven of them in her parents’ house (including a 20-year-old sister home from university and an 18-year-old brother still at college), there is friction over the one bathroom and who should unload the dishwasher.
But her parents seem willing, determined even, to shoulder the costs and help out, says Bethany.
“My mum feels obliged to, because it’s like when we were little. She feels the three of us – me, my brother and sister – are like her little kids still,” she says.
Wage growth in the UK picked up to 3.9% in the year to June, the highest rate for 11 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Overall, a record high of 32.81 million people were in employment – 425,000 more than a year earlier, largely because of more people working full-time.
Mr Hughes added: “Employment continues to increase, with three-quarters of this year’s growth being due to more women working. However, the number of vacancies has been falling for six months, with fewer now than there were this time last year.”
Chancellor Sajid Javid said: “Every person deserves the chance to succeed and provide for their families through a steady income.
“Today’s figures are another sign that despite the challenges across the global economy, the fundamentals of the British economy are strong as we prepare to leave the EU.”
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the figures should silence any calls for a cut in interest rates.
“The labour market tends to lag developments in the wider economy,” he said. “Firms, however, have lived with high levels of economic uncertainty for the best part of a year, and still want to fill new positions.”
He added that the Bank of England has in the past used the annualised rate of growth in wages over three-month periods to back interest rate increases.
But he said: “In the event that Brexit is delayed further – still our base case – or an agreement is reached in October and the economy starts to rebuild a little momentum, the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) will need to move in short order to raise the bank rate again.”
Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said that while the jobs market remained “a source of strength for the UK economy”, it may be reaching its peak.
“With investment in machinery and technology often deemed too risky right now, businesses have sought to bring on board more staff to help lift output,” he said.
“But as more workers have been snapped up, firms have found it harder to fill their openings. While competition has pushed up salaries, thin margins and low productivity may set a ceiling for pay growth. Although vacancies remain high by historic standards, the number has been dropping since the start of the year.”
Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said: “The days of sharply falling unemployment are behind us, but a tight labour market points to further gains in wages and spending power. Despite a second quarter decline in growth, the UK economy still has momentum.”