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Report reveals half of charity's clients don’t have enough income

A man wearing a baseball hat filling up a kettle at a sink in a kitchen.

Christians Against Poverty report reveals sharp rise in unsustainable budgets with the average person £242 short each month

UK charity Christians Against Poverty is launching a campaign to take on poverty’ as its landmark client report shows low incomes and rising costs are devastating lives.

It also highlights the urgent need to take on the fight against the devastation many are facing, through a policy review of income and social security measures.

Report’s key findings

CAP’s debt advice experts work to create tailored budgets for each person, with a focus on covering basic needs. However CAP is finding rising costs and low pay is leading to an increase in clients’ incomes not being sufficient to cover their expenditure, even after expert debt advice and reducing non-essential spending.

Over the last three years this has led to a rise of unsustainable budgets, from under a third in 2020 (31%) to half in 2022 (50%). This means that no matter how much debt advice someone receives, which solution they enter into, and regardless of them doing everything to maximise their income, they will not have enough money to live on.

As a result, CAP has seen a dramatic increase in the number of clients using credit to pay for essentials. In 2021 a third of clients (36%) said they had borrowed money to cover household bills they couldn’t afford. In 2022, 53% of CAP clients had used credit to cover household bills and 56% also borrowed to pay for food, clothing, and other essential living costs.

There has been a rise in the proportion of client budgets that are unsustainable each year over the past five years, apart from 2020 when the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit was in place. Since its removal and with the cost of living crisis accelerating from 2021, the speed of this trend has increased substantially in the past two years.

Living in poverty means you are living without enough income for the basic things you need in life — not just the household essentials, but also those human connections. CAP’s new report shows the devastating impacts of poverty are on the rise:

  • Over half of those surveyed have regularly skipped meals (54%) — an increase from 47% the previous year


  • Over half been unable to afford to heat their homes (51%) — up from 45% the year before


  • The most common reasons for needing to borrow money were to pay for food, clothing or essential living costs (56%) or to cover a household bill (53%)


  • Over half 55% have mental ill-health showing the impact of poverty on people’s wellbeing


  • Half (50%) have attempted or considered suicide as a way out of their debts before seeking help — That’s a frightening rise from 36% the previous year and 28% in 2020

The cost of living crisis is impacting a wide variety of people but certain groups are likely to be most affected and in need of help.

CAP’s new report shows 30% of CAP clients are single parents, 33% have a physical disability, 26% have a serious or terminal illness. 31% have experienced abuse and 30% have been affected after losing a loved one.

Clare has been receiving free debt help from CAP and says, I’m a single mum trying to raise two boys. I’ve had to use food banks in the last couple of months just to top us up.

Food and energy is the main concern. My food bill has doubled in the last six months because of rising costs.

I’ve had a little bit of extra income to cover the increase in costs but it’s not enough. They say that you can survive on benefits but when you’ve got two growing lads you can’t survive on it. It’s not a nice place to be.

I can’t work because of my health. I don’t choose to be on benefits, I simply cannot work because I’m not well enough to work. I would love to be in a full time job. I feel that people who are on benefits get looked down on.

It breaks my heart because I’m not the only one in this situation. I’ve got friends due to bad health who can’t work and we are all struggling.”

I’m a single mum trying to raise two boys. They say that you can survive on benefits but you can’t.

CAP’s Director of External Affairs, Gareth McNab, said:

At Christians Against Poverty we are seeing increasing amounts of everyday people unable to afford the basics; skipping meals, going without heating, falling into debt to cover essential bills and feeling completely hopeless.

It’s heartbreaking for us all at CAP every time one of our local Debt Centre Managers walks into a new client’s home to find an empty fridge and cupboards, dark and cold rooms and piles of bills that the person simply can’t afford.

At CAP we believe that everyone should have access to the basics they need to live. That’s why we continue to help people to break free from poverty with our free debt help, budgeting support and job clubs. But charities like us, can’t win this fight against poverty alone.

We need more funding for free debt help so we are able to continue supporting people during the cost of living crisis, and the ticking timebomb of debt that still hasn’t exploded in our economy. We need more awareness of where to find free debt help from organisations like CAP. And it’s crucial that we all pay attention when those who experience the pain of poverty raise their voices to share what it feels like from their perspective.

The UK Government and political parties must show more commitment to facing up to poverty. We need more short term support to help those on the lowest incomes to cope with rising costs and longer term commitments to tackling poverty from all political parties ahead of next year’s general election.

Poverty seems to be winning the fight right now. Only together will we be able to turn the tide and start to eradicate this evil that’s harming our friends, families, neighbours and communities.”

Gareth McNab headshot.

Poverty steals people’s dignity, freedom and hope. It damages and shortens lives. That’s why we are fighting against it with everything we have!” 

What CAP want to see from Government

CAP wants the UK Government and major opposition parties to make tackling poverty a key priority in their manifestos to show their commitment to helping people recover from the current cost of living crisis. CAP is calling for a review of social security and of minimum wages, to see them set in line with the Minimum Income Standard so that they will always cover the basics.

How you can join the fight against poverty

Contact: Christians Against Poverty PR team: [email protected], 01274 760801

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity determined to reduce UK poverty by delivering free debt help, money management education, job clubs and life skills groups.

We work hand-in-hand with more than 800 local churches across the UK, with our head office based in Bradford. Take a tour at capuk.org/about-us.

Contact: Christians Against Poverty PR team: [email protected], 01274 760801

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity determined to reduce UK poverty by delivering free debt help, money management education, job clubs and life skills groups.

We work hand-in-hand with more than 800 local churches across the UK, with our head office based in Bradford. Take a tour at capuk.org/about-us.

CAP provides debt, money and training support services in over 870 local churches across the UK. CAP is encouraging anyone who wants to find out more about its work or campaign to get in contact. This can be by following it on social media: we’re on Twitter @capuk; Facebook @christians against poverty; Instagram @capuk_org. Signing up to its newsletter at: capuk.org/policy or making a donation at: capuk.org/support

MATCH FUNDED APPEAL
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.'