The essential guide to understanding poverty in the UKRead the report
Cost of living
Tracking the impact that rising prices and interest rates are having on the finances, spending, health and wellbeing of low-income households.
We aim to make sure that media, government and other campaigners have accurate and timely information about how those on the lowest incomes across the UK are faring through the cost of living crisis. We survey households every six months, and since October 2021 we’ve surveyed over 4,000 households in the lowest 40% of household incomes to best understand this.
Our goal is for decision makers to be aware of how those on the lowest incomes are faring, so that they can make decisions based on that data.
The impact of the cost of living crisis is widespread, and relates to our work on:
- destitution and deep poverty
- economic insecurity
- social security
In May 2023 we found that 7.3 million low-income households went without essentials in the first half of 2023, and 4.5 million were in arrears. Over 2 million households were borrowing money to pay their bills.
Still rising prices
Despite inflation falling, prices are still rising, disproportionately impacting families on low incomes. Prices for energy, food and housing have risen at record rates over the last two and a half years.
Continuing to report on the impact that the cost of living crisis is having is vitally important, as falling inflation doesn’t mean falling prices, and the budgets of low-income households are being squeezed further and further. This is forcing millions to go without essentials, take on debt to pay their bills, and fall behind on payments.
Discover more about the cost of living
As the cost of living crisis enters a dangerous new phase, it's pushed millions of people to rely on unsecured lending as a last resort to pay for bills and essentials. With interest rates rising, and inflation stubbornly high, it's unclear how much more pressure this strategy can bear.
JRF’s latest cost of living tracker shows that almost half of low-income mortgage holders were behind on their bills before June’s interest rate rise – they must not be ignored as the Government and Bank of England look to reduce UK inflation levels.
Like poverty in general, very deep poverty is higher for people in households headed by someone of black, Asian and minority ethnicity. In this blog, Peter and Rachelle look at important differences in both the levels and trends of very deep poverty, and the impact of the cost of living crisis for different ethnic groups.
Long-standing inequalities mean that households with a disabled person are falling behind faster in the cost of living crisis. Our latest analysis shows a disturbing picture - but it doesn’t have to be like this.