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Cost of living: was this the month the tide turned? Unfortunately…


We hoped this was going to be it. The month the tide turned on the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation or more. Energy prices were certain to fall. They made lower general inflation inevitable.

Well, that happened. Headline (CPI) inflation did fall from worrying double figures to 8.7% in April; the energy price cap will £426 lower in July; and economists are confident prices will rise more slowly each month for the rest of the year.

But this is not the month

That 8.7% headline was higher than forecast; so was ‘core inflation’ the kind policymakers worry most about; and food inflation (19.1%) hardly fell at all. In fact, it seems nightmare food prices are carrying on where nightmare energy prices left off. The chancellor is talking to food companies about helping family finances but calls for additional support are likely to grow.

At its May national Cost of Living Briefing Citizens Advice* warned this had been the ‘bleakest ever start to a year’. Record numbers of people asked for help with homelessness, energy debts, prepayment meters and affording food or other essentials. There’s also growing evidence that people in work and on middle incomes are finding it hard to make ends meet.

Worrying about money?

At CAEE we’ve been looking at the problems of clients who needed crisis (food bank) support recently. They would have been part of the aforementioned ‘bleakest ever’ start.

Our trained advisers often help with multiple contributing issues. Here are few of the individual summaries they recorded: debt and money issues, financially struggling, debt appointment needed, housing benefit application, small claims court.

This month we’ve also been pleased to help promote the reprinted local Worrying About Money? leaflet. It’s an excellent collaboration between a large group of organisations active in E&E.

* How to join the next national Cost of Living Briefing on 5 June.

This post appears in the Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell May Newsletter.

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