The long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on financial insecurity in vulnerable families: Findings from the Born in Bradford Covid-19 longitudinal study

Publication authors

Sian Reece, Josie Dickerson, Brian Kelly, Rosemary R. C. McEachan, Kate E. Pickett


There is growing recognition that the public health measures employed to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic had unintended consequences on socioeconomic security and health inequalities, having the greatest impact on the most vulnerable groups. This longitudinal study aims to explore the medium to long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent public health measures on financial security for families living in the deprived and ethnically diverse city of Bradford. We collected data at four time points before and during the pandemic from mothers who participated in one of two prospective birth cohort studies in Bradford. The findings demonstrate that the risk of experiencing financial insecurity rose sharply during the pandemic and has not returned to pre-COVID-19 baseline levels. Several individual characteristics were found to be possible predictors of financial insecurity, including homeowner status, free school meal eligibility and not working. Protective factors against financial insecurity include: living in more affluent areas; greater levels of educational attainment; and families with two or more adults in the household. Notably, families of Pakistani Heritage were found to have the greatest risk of experiencing financial insecurity throughout the pandemic. Furthermore, this study demonstrated that there were strong associations between financial insecurity and maternal health and wellbeing outcomes, with mothers experiencing financial insecurity being more likely to report unsatisfactory general health and clinically important symptoms of depression and anxiety. The findings of this study highlight that the impact of financial insecurity experienced by mothers and their families throughout the pandemic was severe, wide ranging and affected the most vulnerable. In the wake of the pandemic, the emerging cost of living and energy crisis emphasises the urgent need for policy makers to act to support vulnerable families to prevent further widening of existing health and social inequalities.