Impact of cost of living crisis laid bare as Brits struggle to pay bills



National poverty charity Turn2us is warning that demand for emergency support could skyrocket as one in two people report not having enough money to pay bills amidst the continuing cost of living crisis.

New figures released by the charity today show that more than half of callers (52%) to the charity’s helpline over the last year were in need of urgent grant support because they did not have enough money to pay bills.

The main causes of people seeking support during this time* included:

  • checking benefit entitlement (25%),
  • financial help with white goods (14%),
  • lack of funds to pay household bills (10.7%)
  • support to access food (3.53%)

These findings follow countless concerns that people on the lowest incomes will be plunged further into financial hardship as they face a perfect storm of rising energy and food costs, inflation, tax increases and loss of income through lagging benefit and work pay levels.

Turn2us warns that need for their services via their helpline, Benefits Calculator and Grants Search tools could soar in the coming months unless the government takes urgent action to increase benefit levels beyond 3.1% so it aligns with the real rate of inflation, which is projected to be 8% in April.

Michael Clarke, Head of Information Programmes at Turn2us says:

“Millions of people across the UK are undoubtedly facing a tight squeeze on their incomes and this is forcing thousands of people to make impossible choices between heating or eating. This isn’t right. Every day our helpline advisors hear from people who don’t know how they will pay their next bill or keep a roof over their heads and we know that the number of people seeking support from us is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Although the government has invested funding into the Warm Home Discount scheme, this will be insufficient to prevent rising numbers of people from falling into the poverty trap. The cost of living crisis is a long term problem that needs long term solutions. We strongly urge the government to address the adequacy of people’s incomes by increasing benefit levels, set them based on the cost of living and make sure that everyone always receives enough to afford the essentials.”

Gary Waterhouse, who has lived experience of financial insecurity, and has been supported by Turn2us, said: “I had to give up work to become a carer for my wife after she became disabled following surgery to remove a spinal cord tumour. The only income we receive now is from the Government but it’s not enough to live on, especially with rising costs of living through the winter.

“We’re just about holding our heads above water but we worry about the increasing energy costs, food prices and even petrol costs – especially with our frequent trips to and from doctors appointments. It’s definitely an anxious time to be in because it constantly plays on your mind how much you can afford things. I’m trying to look for part-time work to top us up, but until I find it, I don’t know how we’ll get by in the coming months.”    

Gary’s wife, Natasha, added: “Until I get my PIP payment through, we only have around 96p in my bank. That’s how bad our situation is now. Our money lasts us two weeks from doing a food shop and topping up the meters. It’s been an uphill battle since having the £86 Universal Credit uplift taken away, and like other people, were worried the cost of living crisis is only going to get worse.”

The charity believes that any action by the government must go hand in hand with investment in the overall adequacy of social security support, particularly for those who are not in work, or are unable to work, whose support is at a 30-year real-term low.

Turn2us is calling on people affected by rising living costs, or others who want to stand in support of people impacted, to make their voice heard by writing to their MP to demand action and work towards a future where everyone has enough money to live on.

People can use our bespoke tool here: