Cost of Living Crisis: Why we need to target support
As the country swelters in a heat wave, it is beyond ironic that the most pressing issue facing the country is what happens when it turns cold.
Predictions of 13% inflation by the Autumn and energy bills of more than £4,000 worry us all. Recent research from the Bevan Foundation has shown a stark picture of people’s finances in Wales and how the majority of people are now cutting back on essentials. Almost one in three households now have no savings. But in truth, and to repurpose an unfortunate phrase from a previous recession, “are we all in it together?”
Put simply no, or certainly not to the same extent. More than a third of disabled people say their impairment causes them to spend more on their energy bills, with the reality being Scope reporting a staggering 500% increase in calls to their disability energy advice service compared to this time last year. This week’s Senedd Committee report into Gypsy, Roma and Traveller sites has highlighted enforced poor living conditions and facilities, placing children and older people at particular risk of poor health. Meanwhile, households reliant on solid gas or with pre-payment meters are going to find it particularly hard as their energy costs more, and they may not receive the same level of support from government. Going without heating may be more common for these homes. We know lower income households spend more of their income on essentials and so, in turn, are more negatively impacted by rising inflation. Tenants in the private rental sector are more likely to have poorly insulated homes which mean they will be at risk of either poor health or spending more money on heating. And what could all this lead to? Established research recognises we are not all at the same risk of experiencing homelessness, with poverty the main contributory factor. Without action, there is a real danger that people already experiencing disadvantage are going to find their lives becoming much harder, with the threat of an increase in homelessness making our existing housing crisis worse.
So what are the solutions? Clearly, the main levers to resolving this crisis sit with, primarily, the UK Government and to a lesser extent, the Welsh Government. It is not clear if significant support is on its way, but on the assumption it is coming (it has to!), it needs to be targeted at those who need it the most.
At a community level, ideas are emerging about what small support can be offered to those who need it the most to try to make day to day living easier. Iceland supermarket is offering £30 vouchers a week to eligible pensioners in certain stores, community groups are expanding their food pantry schemes, and there is even the emergence of “warmth banks” being set up.
Lots more can be done.
Over the coming months, Tai Pawb will be looking to share more practice on solutions. We’d like to develop an ‘ideas bank’ on our webpage where members can share what they are doing to help their tenants and staff so others can learn and adapt to their own circumstances. We’ll be starting this with our own briefing in September and would love to hear more ideas which can be added. So while we may not all be ‘in it together’ in the way we are impacted, working together can help ensure we get everyone through this.
If you want to chat to us about this or have some ideas for the bank then please get in touch 029 2105 7957 / email@example.com