Cost of living campaigning at Westminster
National and Local Citizens Advice colleagues last week took their charities’ cost of living campaigning to parliament. Financial distress has grown across the country along with a frightening rise in the cost of living.
Louise Curd is Publicity and Fundraising Manager at Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell.
One way to understand what’s happening is to keep a watch on the real-time data in Citizens Advice Cost of Living Dashboard. Our national team makes the dashboard available through media channels and direct to ministers and advisers. Locally our MP, council officials and stakeholders always take a keen interest in the latest Epsom & Ewell data.
Usually there is an online event to launch the Dashboard update. This month though I was very pleased to represent CAEE at a proper event in the House of Commons. There really is no substitute for meeting and discussing issues. Here are my key points:
- Over time the cost of living crisis will spread out across all demographics affecting new cohorts of people. For instance employed people and to those who didn’t think they would need help. Dame Clare Moriarty, CEO, National Citizens Advice.
- We need longer term certainty from government. This should not just focus on energy because debt is growing in several other categories, notably food. Nigel Mills MP.
- There was agreement that more support would be needed for families and individuals not receiving benefits.
- Unfortunately the problems many adults face are made worse because they lack basic financial literacy. Giles Wilkes, Institute for Government. We ought to recognise this more in talking about the cost of living but helping adults is difficult. That’s why our CAEE financial literacy project with local schools is so important.
Finally, Colletta Smith, BBC cost of living correspondent, chairing the event, described a test (see right) to show present demand on Citizens Advice. Every 30 seconds a ball would fall into the container. An hour or so later, at the end of the event, 127 balls had fallen. Each represented a client experience, but not, as you might guess, someone asking for help with a named issue. In fact it showed the number of people we’re seeing every day who have fallen into a negative budget – they’ve got more money going out than coming in. Let’s just hope that number also falls soon.
The briefing was a great success. Over 70 colleagues and guests were there in person and 33 parliamentarians dropped in (that’s really good in case you’re wondering!). It was an opportunity to talk about policy priorities and long-term solutions to the cost of living crisis.
The next public cost-of-living briefing is on Thursday 11 May from 1100-1200. Special guests: Carys Roberts, Executive Director at Institute for Public Policy Reform (IPPR) and Paul Johnson, Director at Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). Register now.