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Three quarters of adults have cut back to cope with the cost-of-living crisis

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
Rising prices have forced 75% of UK adults to cut back on things like food, energy use, and travel, according to a new report.

Almost half have turned to savings to cope with higher costs, while 33% said they are now saving less.

Over a quarter (26%) have turned to credit cards, overdrafts or loans, according to the report from the Resolution Foundation.

This number rises significantly for those aged between 35 and 44, where almost 40% have turned to credit to cope with rising prices.

Around 1.7 million (16%) of adults in low-income families skipped meals or ate less in the last seven days of the past month and around 6% said they had used a food bank in the last four weeks.

This comes as news from the Trussell Trust shows that there has been a record demand for emergency food parcels in the last year with almost three million handed out, including more than a million to children.

Nearly half with savings of under £1,000 are behind on bills

One in eight adults missed a priority bill in the last three months before the survey was conducted, a rise of 10% since it was carried out in November. This rose to a fifth of those aged 18 to 24 and fell to fewer than one in 20 for those aged 65 or over.

Almost 20% of adults with savings of at least £1,000 said they had used credit to cover their expenses over winter, rising to 48% for those with £1,000 or less.

Those with lower savings also were more likely to be behind in bills, with 14% saying they were behind on two or more bills compared to 3% of those with savings of over £1,000.

Middle-aged households and those with the lowest incomes were twice as likely to say they had cut back a lot on spending, compared to those aged 65 and over and those with the highest incomes.

The cost-of-living crisis has seen prices soar and they are still 10% higher than a year ago, with the cost of food rising by 19.1%.

Yet the authors of the report say incomes are not keeping up, with pay 4% lower in real terms when compared to the start of 2022 and not set to recover fully until 2026.

While the Government has provided £47bn in support, the Resolution Foundation says households have still had to find ways to cope with higher prices.

Those aged between 18 and 24 were more likely to ask for help from friends and family, with 25% of 25 to 34-year olds receiving help compared to just 2% of those aged 65 and older.

One of the main sources of help was the ‘bank of mum and dad’ and 10.8million 18 to 34-year olds said they had received financial help from their parents in the last year.

The cost-of-living crisis is also having a detrimental impact on people’s physical and mental health, with 40% of those aged 25 to 34 saying their health had been negatively affected, compared to 30% for all age groups.

The report was compiled by surveying 10,000 people in March 2023.

‘Inevitable that food insecurity will remain elevated – if not increase’

The authors of the report also paint a gloomy outlook for the UK. They said: “Looking ahead, policy makers may well be thinking that the worst of the crisis is behind us.

“However, with inflation still in double digits and real household disposable incomes than they were pre-pandemic many families – particularly those with the lowest incomes – will still be struggling to manage the challenge of permanently higher prices throughout the year ahead

“Higher interest rates mean more costly mortgage payments and with food inflation at record highs, it seems almost inevitable that food insecurity will remain elevated – if not increase.

“If we are ever to seriously reverse these trends of weak living standards and high inequality, then we need a clearer economic strategy that delivers shared economic growth.”

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