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Millions unable to withstand financial shock due to cost of living crisis

A man looks into an empty food cupboard in his kitchen
Christians Against Poverty’s new YouGov polling shows around 1 in 4 UK adults can’t afford an unexpected cost of £200
  • Over a quarter of adults in the UK feel financially insecure.

  • Millions are already finding it hard to keep up with bills ahead of autumn.

  • CAP says the UK Government should review social security and low wages to ensure everyone has an income they can live on.

UK debt and budgeting help charity Christians Against Poverty’s (CAP) latest YouGov polling of over 2,000 adults is revealing that the cost of living crisis is leading to a rise in people unable to cope with unexpected costs. 

28% of adults (14.9 million people) say that the rise in the cost of living has made them feel financially insecure, with a frightening 23% (12 million) saying they couldn’t afford an unexpected cost of £200.

28% of UK adults are finding keeping up with bills and credit commitments a heavy burden and 9% now have debts that they do not know how they will repay.

Millions of households are facing a devastating debt crisis 

CAP’s Director of External Affairs, Gareth McNab, says Millions of households in the UK are facing a devastating debt crisis right now. 

At Christians Against Poverty, we are supporting increasing numbers of people who have had to borrow money just to pay for essentials, like food, bills and energy. 

Income is just so low for many that a financial shock like a car issue or the boiler breaking can leave them facing spiralling debts.

It makes me angry to know that so many households currently don’t have access to a liveable income and are being forced to cut back or cut out basic essentials, this can’t be right.”

CAP client Jenny began to struggle with debt after a difficult pregnancy, leaving her unable to return to work. An unexpected car breakdown also added to her family’s financial strain.

She says, I fell pregnant with my daughter, it was a really bad pregnancy and birth. I suffered many traumas during that time and was diagnosed with complex PTSD and lost my job because of it.

We were just about ticking over, but we had to take out a credit card because the car blew up and we needed to buy another car.

It was a very difficult time for all of us and it was not easy going down to one wage with a new baby and a son.

After falling into debt, Jenny got help from Christians Against Poverty and is now debt free, CAP’s staff were absolutely lovely, kind and caring, took the time to just speak to me and go through everything. 

I have been working 2 days a week. So I get UC and I also get PIP. 

Through these incomes they were able to create a budget for me and a repayment plan. I was on a repayment plan, sticking to a budget and never missing a payment.”

Gareth continued, With our nations’ shared values of compassion and justice, there is just not one single acceptable reason that anyone should be going hungry, cold and living in the dark because they can’t afford the basics, or because they had to borrow money to pay for life’s essentials.

We all deserve to have an income that provides us with at least the essentials, yet for many right now inadequate levels of social security and low wages are leading to more debt & poverty, and all the worries and challenges that come with that.

None of us want to see people in our communities suffering due to rising costs and that’s why we need political leaders to act now.”

What we want to see:

  • Political parties right across the spectrum make a clear manifesto commitment to ending UK Poverty through ensuring liveable incomes — by reviewing the rates of both social security and wages against the minimum income standard.

  • Debt deduction rates from benefits being subject to affordability assessments and ensure they meet the essentials guarantee — that there is enough to live on after those deductions have been made.

  • A UK-wide strategy to be created by Westminster and Devolved Governments to ensure that every individual and household across the UK is receiving all the social security benefits to which they and their families are entitled.

Notes to editors:

  • CAP commissioned a YouGov Poll of a nationally representative sample of 2,220 UK adults. Polling was carried out between 3 — 5 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.

  • All calculations related to population have been carried out by Christians Against Poverty, using YouGov and ONS data.

  • Population figures have been calculated using ONS mid-year UK adult population estimates for 2021 of 53,188,204.

Ruth holding a sign that reads 'There is so much need. I'm at my limit.'
Ruth, Co-Debt Centre Manager

We urgently need your support to reach every person in poverty.

Ruth holding a sign that reads 'There is so much need. I'm at my limit.'