The cost of living crisis

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

The unfolding crisis in the cost of living is deeply concerning, particularly when considering the disproportionate impact it is having on the most vulnerable within society, writes Turning Point’s chief executive, Julie Bass.

The latest ONS data suggests that Britain’s economy contracted by 0.1% in March, as rising inflation [9% in April] and the burgeoning cost of living crisis takes its toll. The Bank of England warned us earlier this month that a recession is on the cards.

The impact of the crisis is being experienced in multiple ways. We feel it in the unprecedented £693 hike in energy bills. We see it in increased food prices, with food and drink rising by 5.9%. We are hit hard by it in our pockets through the rising cost of fuel – with a steep 13.4% increase in transport costs in the year to March.

Rising inequality

Although cost of living increases affects us all to some degree, the fallout most acutely impacts the poorest within society with existing social, economic and health inequalities further exacerbated.

New research suggests that the increase in gas and electricity bills expected this October could lead to average annual inflation rates of as high as 14% for the poorest 10% of households, compared with 8% for the richest. Recent figures also show that the number of people struggling with food insecurity has risen by a staggering 57% in just three months.

Moving from the economic to social impact, evidence shows that the crisis has a greater effect on women and ethnic minorities.

At Turning Point, we see first-hand the complexities of the expanding crisis expressed in terms of unequal health outcomes and socioeconomic inequality. For instance, within our supported living services, we have seen the impact of the crisis upon individuals with a learning disability and those with mental health conditions.

Dindy Mphi, a locality manager at Turning Point’s mental health service in Cumbria, has observed a significant rise in young people struggling from rising cost of living pressures. Many have been in supported care as children and leave care upon turning 18. However, universal credit payments (which are reduced by 16% for those under 25) are not enough to cover the rising costs of living.

Often alone and unsupported by family, such individuals find it difficult to survive. As a result, many young people we support rely heavily on food banks and cannot afford to pay for essentials such as heating. These financial pressures often negatively impact existing mental health issues. It is clear that currently young care leavers are inadequately supported due to a significant gap in government benefit provision.

Moving on to our Hertfordshire Supported Living Services, we are beginning to see how increasing food and transport costs are affecting people who have a learning disability. At Turning Point, we strive to empower those we support to live their lives as independently as possible. However, benefit provision is failing to keep pace with inflation, and employment is not a possibility for many with a learning disability. This consequently limits the ability for people to be involved in the experiences or things that bring them joy. For those with a learning disability it becomes increasingly a matter of survival, and many are deprived of the financial freedom to live.

Read the full blog post here.

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