More families across the UK in poverty as the cost of living crisis further deepens
For many families, the new year has not marked an opportunity to leave behind the financial concerns and pressures that were felt last year. In fact, the first weeks of 2023 have brought with them even more pressures and concerns with interest rate rises and continued high inflation. And with wages not rising at anywhere near the same pace as inflation, almost all households across the UK are finding that their income does not go as far as it would have done a year ago.
The government’s interventions, such as the £600 energy payment, are welcomed. However, for the many families who were already struggling in 2021 – even prior to the current cost of living crisis – a year of higher than expected bills and other outgoings in 2022, means they may find themselves in 2023 in a much worse financial situation than they would have anticipated.
Additionally, rises in housing costs, whether that is through increased mortgage payments for homeowners or the increases in rents as landlords also see their outgoings rise, have pushed many households closer to the edge, particularly those who may have used up any savings just to make ends meet over the winter months.
A recent report released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, UK Poverty 2023, highlights trends across the different groups in society, and identifies which types of household are more or less likely to be facing poverty. It finds that lone parent families are the most likely type of household to be in poverty in the UK.
Northern Ireland data within the report highlights that the poverty rate here is less than in other regions in the UK. This may be due to a combination of factors including the lower cost of housing than in the rest of the UK, a lower proportion of people living in rented accommodation and specific mitigations to welfare reform measures rolled out across the UK. However, this does nothing to relieve the lived experience of those households in Northern Ireland who are in poverty and who are struggling to make ends meet.
In April 2023, the new tax year will bring a rise in benefits and Tax Credit rates of 10.1% and also a rise of 9.7% in the National Living Wage. These rises will of course be welcomed and helpful for claimants, but with no end in sight to the cost of living crisis many more families will still struggle to make ends meet throughout 2023.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has more information on poverty including reports covering the whole of the UK on their website www.jrf.org.uk
We would encourage anyone wishing to find out what financial support they may be entitled to, to contact our Family Benefits Advice Service for free, impartial and confidential advice on Freephone 0800 028 3008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org