A new survey commissioned by the national charity Turn2us has found that, despite a recovering economy, 83% of low income households have seen no sign of their financial situation improving. Crucially, households that have experienced just one change in their circumstances are now twice as likely to be struggling financially.
The survey, released to coincide with Turn2us’ annual Benefits Awareness Month, examines the severe financial struggles of households that experienced the onset of illness or disability, a change in their working hours, childbirth or family breakdown in the last year. Almost three fifths (58%) of households that experienced one of these changes say their outgoings now significantly exceed their earnings, while over a third (34%) say their debt levels have worsened. Worryingly, even a quarter (26%) of those in full-time work said their debt had increased over the last 12 months.
These struggles are continuing for huge numbers of the poorest in society. Since 2010, families have seen their disposable incomes drop by £400, while the gap between the richest and poorest fifth of households has widened*. Since 2008 the proportion of households unable to maintain an acceptable standard of living has risen by nearly a third**.
The toll these struggles are taking on lives is severe; nine out of ten households that had experienced just one change in their circumstances are struggling to pay for food and other essentials. Meanwhile, 58% said that the continuing struggle to cover costs was negatively affecting their health. Despite the struggles, one third (33%) of low income households had not even checked their entitlement to benefits.
In response to these on-going problems, Turn2us’ Benefits Awareness Month is focusing on the huge numbers of households still struggling to make ends meet. From 15 April – 15 May Turn2us is encouraging everyone to check what financial support could be available by using Turn2us’ free, online Benefits Calculator at http://www.benefitsawareness.org.uk/. The website also features information on what support is available depending on how a household’s circumstances change.
Alison Taylor, Director of Operations at Turn2us, said: “Today, Turn2us launches Benefits Awareness Month. Many low-income households are already struggling to afford basic goods - just one change in their situation is enough to push them into real financial hardship. That change could be an unexpected bill, becoming ill, bereaved or losing your job. Support is often available through the benefits system but many people are just not aware of the benefits they are entitled to. Through this campaign we aim to highlight the support available, so people are not left struggling without help, at a time they need it most.”
Turn2us is working in partnership with other charities and organisations across the UK for Benefits Awareness Month. For more information about the campaign, please visit http://www.benefitsawareness.org.uk/.
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For further information and interviews with Turn2us case studies or spokespeople, please contact: Emma Lamberton, Communications Officer, Turn2us
Email: Emma.Lamberton@turn2us.org.uk Telephone: 0208 834 9259
Notes to Editors
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Research Now. Total sample size was 2094 adults with annual household incomes under £25,000 before tax and deductions during March 2015
* ONS 2015: UK Perspectives on Person and Household Finances in the UK
**Joseph Rowntree Foundation research on households below minimum income standard
Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through our partner organisations
The Turn2us free, accessible website - http://www.turn2us.org.uk/ is designed to help people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other help
Turn2us is part of Elizabeth Finn Care, a national charity in England & Wales (207812) and Scotland (SC040987).