Christians Against Poverty (CAP) works to end UK poverty by providing free, independent debt advice and money coaching. Driven by a wish to see dignity for all, CAP is calling on the UK Government to provide urgent support for low-income households this winter and beyond.
CAP’s latest YouGov polling of 2,220 adults shows 28% of UK adults (14.7m people) skipped meals in July as a result of the cost of living crisis. With 21% (11.3m people) doing so on at least a weekly basis.
The cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on people’s mental health with over half (56%) saying their mental health has been negatively impacted by rising costs and almost a quarter (23%) have daily anxiety about their finances.
1 in 10 agree that at times they have felt like the increased cost of living has made life not worth living.
Expert comment: Christians Against Poverty’s Director of External Affairs, Gareth McNab
“This Autumn Statement is a make or break moment for the UK Government to show their commitment to tackling poverty in our communities and helping those most impacted by rising costs.
“The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has a great opportunity to take action and make a significant difference to the lives of millions of people on low incomes across the UK who are currently facing an extremely challenging winter.
“2023 has been another year where we have all been battered by rising costs. Inflation may be slowing down but prices not rising as fast is little consolation to people who are already facing serious, problem debt due to their low incomes not stretching enough to cover the rising costs of essentials.
“Previously announced support, such as the cost of living payments for those on low incomes, is welcomed. But when we speak to people currently living in poverty in our communities and hear how horrendous some of their situations are it is starkly clear that it’s nowhere near enough.
“People like dad of two Anthony who is struggling with his health. He told us his doctor has declared that he’s not currently well enough to work but he says he isn’t entitled to enough benefit income to provide for himself and his kids.
“Because his income is so low and costs so high, he says he’s incurring around £200 of debt every single month just to cover his basic bills and essential living costs and worries things will only get worse if prices continue rising.
“The type of situation Anthony is facing is something we are seeing a lot at CAP right now. Around half of our clients currently have unsustainable budgets which means even after free, professional debt help, they don’t have enough money to stay afloat and afford what they need.
“At Christians Against Poverty we are seeing many people facing desperate circumstances simply because their income is too low and the price of essentials, such as food, energy and rent, is too high.
“CAP has already seen a rise in our clients having to skip meals, a rise in those going without heating on cold days and sadly a big rise in people who have considered or attempted suicide as a way out of debt before coming to us for help. We are seriously concerned this winter may be even harder for some people after another year of rising costs.
“Poverty and destitution shouldn’t exist in the UK. It exists because of broken systems and policies that don’t protect people enough when they fall on hard times. It exists because too many politicians aren’t facing up to the problem and taking action to change it.
“I’d urge all MPs to meet with local people in their constituency who are living in poverty, listen to them and act to ensure the support they need is available and accessible to enable them to get back on their feet and move forward with their lives.
“Resorting to retail politics and pre-election panderings is not what the British public want or need — our national shared values of justice & compassion demand that the Chancellor act with urgency in his Autumn Statement and announce more immediate, targeted support for low income households facing a winter of fear, hunger and debt, and indicate a longer term commitment towards the goal of ending poverty across the UK.”
5 ways the Government can protect the most financially vulnerable
Improve social security so it covers everyone’s basic needs.
Ensure social security is adequate by providing an Essentials Guarantee, to give everyone the income they need to live and prevent them from falling into destitution.
Ensure everyone is receiving the benefits they are entitled to.
An estimated 19 billion pounds of benefit income is being left unclaimed. The government needs to provide awareness and support to ensure everyone knows exactly how and where to claim the benefits they are entitled to and has an accessible way to do so.
Provide more funding to the free debt advice sector.
The UK is facing a personal debt crisis with millions of people falling into debt, meaning access to free, professional FCA accredited debt help is desperately needed. The Government needs to contribute more long-term and sustainable funding towards this vital work and ensure that any sector that benefits also contributes.
Give more support to those struggling with energy and rent costs.
With energy prices set to remain high into the next decade, we are calling on the Government to put in place more long term and targeted support. We’ve also consistently called for a return to linking Local Housing Allowance with local rents, to help people afford their rent costs.
Commit to a long term plan to end poverty in the UK.
Ahead of next year’s general election, CAP is calling for all political parties to make manifesto commitments with the ultimate, long term aim of ending poverty in the UK.
CAP’s 2023 Client Report, which is an annual survey of Christians Against Poverty clients, revealed:
A rise in those who told us they regularly skipped meals (54%) — an increase from 47% the previous year.
A rise in those unable to afford to heat their homes from 45% the year before to 51% last winter.
A significant rise from around a third (36%) to a half (50%) who had attempted or considered suicide as a way out of their debts before seeking help.
CAP also commissioned a YouGov Poll of a nationally representative sample of 2,220 UK adults. Polling was carried out between 3rd — 5th July 2023. Three questions (Question 1,2, and 7) underwent two waves to increase the sample size, providing a representative sample of 4,373 UK adults.
More data can be found in our CAP Polling Summary Report.
Population figures have been calculated using ONS mid-year UK adult population estimates for 2021 of 53,188,204. Including Wales 2,488,950, Northern Ireland — 1,469,572, Scotland — 4,454,919. 84% of respondents lived in England, 4.8% in Wales, 8.6% in Scotland, 2.6% in Northern Ireland.
All calculations related to population have been carried out by Christians Against Poverty, using YouGov and ONS data.
PR team: [email protected], 01274 760801
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity working with over 800 affiliated churches to deliver debt help, budgeting guidance, support to find work, life skills groups and more. Visit capuk.org to find out more.
CAP is committed to its services being accessible and inclusive. We support people from all faiths. We do not discriminate by age, gender reassignment, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or on maternity leave, disability, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.