New analysis from Citizens Advice has revealed the stark reality of people’s finances as they head into 2023.
Research from the charity shows more than one in three UK adults (37%) say they’d find it difficult or impossible to cover even a £20 increase to their monthly outgoings. This equates to 17.7 million people in England and Wales.
This figure is particularly high for some groups, including 58% for people in receipt of benefits, 57% for people on prepayment meters and 47% for people of colour.
Last month, Citizens Advice supported record numbers of clients to access crisis support like food bank referrals and emergency charitable grants. It warns that many more will be pushed to the financial brink in the coming months due to a triple whammy of soaring energy bills, inflation and interest rates.
People are resorting to desperate measures to get by.
The charity’s new analysis found one in four people (23%) have spent more money on essentials than they’ve had coming in over the last three months, with many resorting to short-term fixes to get by. However, two in three (67%) reported they could only keep this up for less than six months without additional support.
Citizens Advice also found that overall, one in three (33%) UK adults has had to dip into their savings in the last three months to make ends meet. More than half of this group (56%) have either already run out of savings, or expect to do so within the next three months – further highlighting the need for additional support measures to help keep people afloat.
Worryingly 15% of UK adults have reported eating cold meals this winter to reduce their electricity costs. The impact on people’s mental health has also been profound with 28% of adults losing sleep each week over their financial situation.
Intervention is key. It is absolutely vital support continues to reach those on benefits and others struggling with energy costs. This is where each local Citizens Advice charity plays a significant role by using our data to stand up for the people we support.
Collectively, Citizens Advice are calling for a clear plan from the government on how to target support in a sustainable way to those who are currently just about scraping by, but who could fall into hardship as the cumulative strain of rising costs takes its toll.
Pat Coomber-Wood, Chief Executive of the Citizens Advice charities delivering services in Cherwell and rural West Northants, said:
“So many households are at financial breaking point. People are running down savings, going without bare essentials and turning to food banks to get by. Many are concerned about being able to keep a roof over their head. Many are working families or pensioners who simply cannot cut back any further without risking health and wellbeing. Some have never needed to use advice services to manage their financial situation before and don’t even know where to start.”
If you find yourself in need of any kind of help you may be able to find answers on our national information website www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Our local website www.canosn.org.uk has information about how we can help if you need more support. You can also call our Adviceline on 0808 278 7906. The call is free from a landline or a mobile but please be patient – we are incredibly busy.
If you would like to become a volunteer to help us do more to help the local community then please look at the volunteers section on our local website to see the opportunities that are available and complete a Volunteer Expression of Interest form.
As a charity, donations enable us to help more people. If you wish to make a donation you can find details of how to do this on our website, or cheques can be sent to Citizens Advice North Oxfordshire, 26 Cornhill, Banbury OX165NG.