Skip to main content
Cost of living
Savings, debt and assets

Low-income families have little to celebrate as food inflation remains high in run up to Christmas

Date published:

According to JRF’s October cost-of-living tracker:  

  • 5.7 million low-income families (49%) have reduced their spending on gifts for family, due to cost during the cost-of-living crisis (since April 2021). A further 1.8 million low-income families (16%) said that they hadn’t done so yet, but were planning to in the coming months.
  • In October 2023, 2.4 million low-income families (20%) reported currently holding a loan or credit that they had originally taken out help to pay for gifts or special occasions like Christmas or birthdays.
  • In October 2023, 73% of low-income families on Universal Credit experienced food insecurity.

Responding to today's latest CPI inflation rate, 3.9%, and food price inflation at 9.2%, JRF Senior Economist Rachelle Earwaker said:

“Millions of families will have little to celebrate at Christmas this year. Food price inflation remains high, despite the bigger than expected fall in headline inflation. Many families have spent the past year skipping meals and cutting down on food to try and cope with higher prices. Over two million families have already taken on debt to pay for birthday gifts and other occasions. As Christmas approaches, many more will face the reality of not being able to afford presents or a Christmas dinner this year.

“It’s not right that our social security system, which is meant to protect all of us when we fall on hard times, doesn’t give families enough to afford the essentials. No one should feel ashamed, stressed or anxious because of the cost of Christmas. All political parties must commit to introducing an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ to Universal Credit to ensure everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford the essentials.”

Leftovers from breakfast on a plate.

This news article is part of the cost of living topic.

Find out more about our work in this area.

Discover more about the cost of living