Back to Frontline Families overview

Households with young children, living on low incomes or unemployment, in council rented housing and spending most of their free time enjoying at home entertainment.


A mixture of nuclear families and more extended family units, living with young children in ethnically diverse suburban communities.

  • The youngest of the segments overall, 81% are 26 – 50 years old, while 67% also have children in the household of varying ages – mostly between 5-11 years.
  • The group includes some quite large or extended families with older and younger children as well as grandparents or other relatives living in the home.
  • 29% are single, living alone and mostly in the older or younger age ranges.
  • About a quarter have some sort of long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.
  • The ethnic diversity is characteristic of many suburban populations with established immigrant communities including Black Caribbean or African, Irish, Eastern European as well as South Asian families.


A financially squeezed group, usually with low education levels, working in unskilled jobs or unemployed, and living in council rented accommodation.

  • With 84% on salaries less than £25K and 26% on less than £10K, these families are financially squeezed and stretched.(figures c.2015)
  • This group does include some younger and older singles who are equally financially squeezed – likely to be either students or unemployed.
  • Frontline Families have low educational attainment and basic qualifications.
  • They often work in trade or low-skilled jobs, with many in 'frontline' roles - such as caretaking, construction, transport, cleaning, hospitality and retail.
  • There is also a much higher than average instance of unemployment within this group.
  • They live on a budget and many are claiming multiple benefits to make ends meet, while some may be students living transient lives, paying modest rents.
  • Living mostly in terraced or semi-detached houses, many (46%) are rented from the council or housing associations, with some having saved enough over the years to be eligible to buy their homes (45%).
  • House shares are not common for this group and the older members tend to have lived in the same house for a long time, are well established and tied to their local community.


Fairly homogenous in lifestyle and outlook, they have limited leisure time and disposable income, and are therefore likely to do more home-based activities.

  • This is the group most likely to have a computer games console, and TV plays a central role in the household – mostly screening kids programmes or football – with a high subscription rate to Sky or Virgin channels.
  • There is an indication that some do have homes to develop, where DIY and gardening are main activities, and many also have pets to look after.
  • The best deals on food are sought at supermarkets such as Iceland, Aldi, Asda, Co-op or Spar, which need to be local and accessible by public transport as these families are unlikely to have cars.
  • Despite very low incomes, they are likely to put on the odd bet and see shopping as their main leisure activity (albeit on low budgets).
  • They do some sports activities, particularly dance or Zumba for fitness and social reasons and friends and family are important, but going on days out to restaurants, cafes or bars is relatively lower on the agenda.
  • As with much of their lives, holidays are ‘budget’ and may involve trips to UK seaside resorts and holiday camps.
  • A few play a musical instrument, and more participate in some digital creativity – TikTok videos, Instagram reels etc.

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