New figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of stepfamilies has fallen by 14 per cent in a decade.

The figures revealed that in the UK there were 544,000 families with children living with a step parent in 2011, down from 631,000 ten years earlier.

In contrast, the number of children living with both their birth parents rose by 4 per cent in the same period.

The data collected revealed that the spread of stepfamilies across the country is not equal. Interestingly, the fewest stepfamilies occur in London, West London and along the M4 corridor.

The ONS said: ‘The lowest proportions of couple families with dependent children which were stepfamilies in 2011 were in and to the west of London, extending along the M4 corridor.

‘Meanwhile, the highest proportions were in coastal areas, south Wales, Norfolk and the East Midlands.

‘Several reasons may contribute to this pattern including the presence of affordable housing because stepfamilies tend to be larger.

‘For example, the cost of homes with enough bedrooms to accommodate children may prevent some people who both have children from moving in together in London and the South East.’

The ONS figures showed that, unsurprisingly, stepfamilies are often larger than other families. In stepfamilies where the parents have married, 28 per cent have three or more dependent children compared with 17 per cent of married couple non-stepfamilies.

‘This may be expected as some couples may have one or more children from a previous relationship and go on to have another child within their current relationship,’ the ONS said.

‘Alternatively, children may come from both partners’ previous relationships.’

The data revealed that in England and Wales 1.1 million of children lived in a stepfamily in 2011- the equivalent of nearly 1 in 10 children.

A total of 7.7 million, or 64 per cent, of children lived with both of their parents and 3.1 million or 26 per cent lived with a single parent.

Marriage seems to be popular among stepfamilies – the majority of children living in stepfamilies lived with parents who have married. 689,000 children live in married stepfamilies, compared to 418,000 where the parents in the stepfamily have not married.


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