At Citizens Advice Reigate and Banstead we are supporting families that are facing difficult choices as the cost of living rises. The government must act now with targeted help to alleviate some of the further financial uncertainty that is expected.
With the energy price cap set to increase further in April 2022, it is predicted that an additional 2 million more households will be pushed into fuel poverty, bringing the total to 6 million. The price cap is expected to increase by 57% in response to the collapse of energy suppliers which has displaced nearly 4.5 million customers. We know this will have a huge effect on those who come to us for help. Many people across the UK face a cost of living crisis with the combined effects of the increased energy costs, the 1.25% increase in National Insurance employee contributions and rising inflation rates, which the Bank of England expect will reach 6% by spring 2022. This represents the highest rate of inflation in 30 years; and as food prices rise and more people struggle to afford the essentials, the reliance on food banks is expected to increase.
Those on the lowest incomes will be hit hardest and we know our frontline advisers are already supporting people who find it difficult to pay rent, food and heating. In order to help households deal with these challenges, new Citizens Advice research recommends four steps:
National Citizen Advice data estimates that these proposals would provide savings and income boosts to households on the lowest incomes worth £577 in 2022/3, which is £48 per month. National polling shows that one in five people have already cut back on their food shop (19%), or used less heating (20%) to save money, which demonstrates how recent changes have left many households in a vulnerable position. No-one should have to choose between heating or eating.
Citizens Advice Reigate and Banstead reached out to the Member of Parliament for Reigate, Crispin Blunt MP and shared our national data and we look forward to hearing his views on the matter.
Luca Difato, Operational Team Support Administrator and Communications Assistant. 20th January 2022.