Findings from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that 93% of adults have reported an increase in their living costs compared with a year ago.
With inflation hitting a 40-year high towards the end of 2022 and so many people seemingly feeling the pinch, it can be difficult to know what help is available and where to find it.
Here, we explore the cost of living crisis - what caused it, when it could end and, more importantly, the help and support available to help you reduce your food and travel bills.
For help managing your energy and housing bills, explore our blog - Paying Energy and Housing Bills, Grants and More.
First, let’s explore what ‘the cost of living crisis’ actually means.
What is the cost of living crisis?
The cost of living crisis defines a decrease in ‘real’ disposable income i.e. the money someone has left, adjusted for inflation and after tax and benefits are deducted.
The current cost of living crisis is caused by price rises and inflation happening quicker than wage and benefit increases. Essentially, things like bills, food, fuel and energy are costing more, but wages haven’t increased at the same rate (if at all).
What has caused the cost of living crisis?
Several factors have contributed to the increase in the cost of living. Supply issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the pandemic itself have had an effect, as has the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Nationally, tax changes and inflation have driven price rises too.
When will the cost of living crisis end?
There is no definitive date that the cost of living crisis will end; however, The Bank of England expects that inflation in the UK will fall sharply in the middle of 2023.
In December 2022, the Bank of England raised interest rates by 0.5% to 3.5% - this has been done to help ensure inflation comes back down from the middle of 2023.
Cost of living crisis - help and support
We understand the difficulties that millions of people in the UK are facing in light of the cost of living crisis. If you’re struggling financially or with the stresses of having money worries, please know you’re not alone.
Here, you can find cost-of-living help and support to assist you with any financial pressures and their emotional impact.
The Cost of Living Payment is a Government scheme which will see eligible parties receive up to £900 to help combat their more expensive bills. If you’re eligible, you’ll be paid automatically in the same way you receive your benefits or tax credits.
More details of how and when the payments can be expected are available in Gov.UK’s Cost of Living article.
Cost of living crisis help - travel
As purse strings tighten to accommodate the rising costs of food, energy and housing, ensuring you’re saving as much money as possible is crucial.
If you use the train regularly, you’ll be aware of how expensive it can be, but you may be eligible for a railcard. There are several types of railcard available to people of all ages and backgrounds, these are:
Disabled Persons Railcard - 1/3 off fares
Family and Friends Railcard - 60% off kids’ tickets and 1/3 off adults’ fares
Two Together - 1/3 off fares
Veterans Railcard - 1/3 off
Network Railcard (16+, South East only) - 1/3 off fares
16-17 Saver - 50% off fares
16-25 Railcard - 1/3 off fares
26-30 Railcard - 1/3 off fares
Senior Railcard (for ages 60+) - 1/3 off
Further to this, people who claim Universal Credit can claim 50% off rail journeys through National Rail - learn more on the National Rail website.
Applying for Bus passes
If you live in England and have reached the state pension age, you can apply for an older person’s bus pass. Meanwhile, if you’re aged over 60 and live in Scotland or Wales, you’ll be eligible for an older person’s bus pass. Find out more about the older person’s bus pass here.
People aged 60 and over living in London can travel on buses, tubes and other transport for free too, but only within London. Learn more here.
Disabled people in Britain can apply for a bus pass by clicking the link relevant to their location below:
Cost of living crisis help - food
One of the most notorious effects of the cost of living crisis has been the increased cost of food. In November 2022, research found that UK food price inflation soared to an annual rate of 12.4%.
Help Through Hardship, a helpline from Citizens Advice and the Trussell Trust is ensuring people’s money can go further and offering referral vouchers to food banks. Explore more about the Help Through Hardship scheme and find your local food bank on the Trussell Trust website.
Apps like Too Good To Go also offer users the opportunity to buy surplus food at discounted prices from restaurants, supermarkets, cafes, and more.
Additionally, if you would like to spread the cost of stocking up the freezer, you can apply for an interest-free Fair for You Food Club Card loan to spend at The Food Warehouse and Iceland stores. You can apply for an initial top-up of between £25 - £75 and repayments are set at £10 per week.
Further guidance and cost of living support are also available on the Gov.UK website.
If you have found any ways to tackle the cost of living crisis, please share them with us via our Facebook page, @fairforyoucic.
For more money-saving tips and an insight into how Fair for You operates as a not-for-profit organisation, explore our blog.
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The content of this blog does not constitute personal financial advice, and the views expressed in it are those of the contributor or author, which may not necessarily represent or reflect the views expressed by Fair for You Enterprise CIC.