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Permanent insecurity still trapping many in cost crisis

Permanent insecurity in their income is trapping many people in desperate circumstances. It impacts their physical and mental health and reduces capacity to move forward. So said Dame Clare Moriarty, CEO, summing up the latest Citizens Advice Data Insights online. Watchback and check data.

Guest speaker Kate Bell, TUC Assistant General Secretary, agreed. In her view the crisis will continue absent a higher minimum wage, fairer sickness benefit, more job security and stronger social safety net.

Unveiling the latest national data the Citizens Advice team welcomed the fall in inflation to 3.2% with energy prices down 12% in April. Yet the Household Cost Index (a measure of essentials inflation) was still 5%; rents, mortgage costs, council tax and broadband bills were all rising and food prices up 25% in the past two years.

No declaration

Tom MacInness, Chief Analyst, said ‘We can’t declare the cost crisis over until the budgets of people we help are back to 2019 levels.’

Tom was, once again, highlighting the number of debt clients struggling with a negative budget (essential outgoings exceed income). Among many causes was the extraordinary rise in private rents. Everyone was pleased when in November the chancellor ‘unfroze’ housing benefit. The trouble is higher payments are only now taking effect while rents have risen 4.2% since the announcement.

There are lots of ways to describe what is still happening to millions of people and looks set to continue.

Trussell Trust’s Tom Weekes, pointed to the record 3m food parcels his charity supplied in the year to March. Two thirds of the trust’s support went to families with children.

CA colleagues referred to the gnawing impact of income insecurity. The unhappy sense of ‘catching up but falling back at the same time’ or ‘getting back on an even keel always just out of reach’ was common.

June Citizens Advice Data Insights: Everyday Inequality – Gender, our event on Gender Inequalities 13 June 2024 11-12pm. Speaker panel: Jess Phillips, MP, Kate Stephens, CEO, Smart Works, Jane van Zyl, CEO, Working Families. Register now.

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