Households need crisis support in face of ‘desperate choices’. Research & Campaigns Team.
Across England and Wales in November people were asking Citizens Advice for crisis support every 2 minutes. Facing imminent hardship they needed a food voucher or other charity grant. In more prosperous parts the pressure was less.
CAEE Research & Campaigns Team
Complacency would be a mistake however.
On average, from April to November, someone asked Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell for food or charity support every working day. Many needed help with food but also other issues such as energy bills or rent arrears.
When we looked at requests for help with overall debt problems, a deteriorating picture emerged. Check the unmistakable trends below.
Last week Gillian Cooper, Head of Energy Policy at national Citizens Advice, welcomed government plans to fund household energy efficiency improvements*.
She went on however: “This is only part of the solution…… Some we’re helping are making desperate choices to keep bills down – like turning the heating off despite having a health condition which means they need to keep warm.”
Food and energy – a graphic example
Recent research shows individuals and families on low incomes facing a higher cost of living than better-off neighbours. The chart below from the independent Resolution Foundation based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) data is a graphic example. Its focus too is crisis responses.
Summarising its findings, ONS says: “When asked about how they were feeling about the future in response to the times we are living in now, around half (49%) of all adults reported they were unsure (very or fairly) of the future; this increased to 55% among those in the most deprived areas of England but was 45% among those in the least deprived areas” [our emphasis]**
This work touches on something we know very well at Citizens Advice: average geographical area deprivation obscures individual household distress. Policymakers must always remember that sufficient income is the key to basic quality of life, whether there’s a cost of living crisis or not.
* Citizens Advice responds to the ECO+ scheme and expansion of the Help for Households campaign, 28/11/22
** Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain: 8 to 20 November 2022 ONS (Resolution Foundation 25/11/22)