Crunched, squeezed, hit for 6 – the crisis goes on
Crunched. Squeezed. Hit for 6 (per cent). The media clichés of crisis economics sadly don’t misrepresent the feelings of many CAEE clients or millions of others around the country.
What’s happening continues to press hardest on those with the lowest incomes, particularly private renters. Food inflation in May at 18.3% was down (!) but that flattered staples such as eggs (29%) cheddar (38%) or baked beans (40%). Private rents rose 5% making the shortfall in housing benefit even bigger.
Evidence of the difficult rental market came with a steady increase in CAEE clients since the autumn. Our campaigns team continues to make the case for better market regulation.
But more middle-incomers are now in trouble too. Bank base rate at 5% guarantees problems for many with mortgages. Last week the Institute of Fiscal Studies predicted average rises of £390 a month in the South-East and £520 in London.
Normally few owner-occupiers ask for our help but with 39% of local homes owned with a mortgage the new conditions are likely to affect some residents.
The June Citizens Advice public CoL briefing said demand for advice was “going through the roof”. As ever things are worse for people with chronic health conditions or disabilities. This is true in Epsom & Ewell with more local clients asking about disability benefits. Watch back and register for the next briefing on 24 July.
At the same briefing, Trussell Trust reported record demand for food support. More surprisingly (or not?) they said their teams were painfully aware their hard work was just not enough; crisis support and food parcels were inadequate responses to hardship and policy change was urgent.
On a similar theme the Mind charity spoke of the direct and damaging links between poverty and mental illness.
This post appears in the Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell June Newsletter.