Families with children are being faced with price rises of £400 per month on basic items such as food, rent and heating, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The impacts of inflation are being felt sooner and harder by those on the lowest incomes, who spend a higher proportion of their incomes on essential items, according to the Foundation’s research. At the same time, without further action, the basic rate of social security in 2022/23 will be the lowest since 1982, at a time when inflation is at a 40-year-high.
The pressures on budgets are largely being driven by fuel, which has more than doubled in cost. Other categories which have risen significantly include food (increasing by 9.3%), childcare (up 6.7%), motoring and other travel costs. Together, this equates to a rise in costs of 13% compared with last year, well ahead of the main inflation rate of 9% in April. In cash terms, families are spending around an extra £120 per month on energy, £90 on transport including petrol and £65 on childcare.
The family budgets have been calculated using the Minimum Income Standard, produced by Loughborough University for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and based on items the public think are needed to achieve an acceptable standard of living. Costs for families with two children have risen faster than the 9% rate of inflation in the official statistics, seeing the largest year on year increase since the Minimum Income Standard started to be used in 2008.
Peter Matejic, Deputy Director of Evidence and Impact at JRF, said: “Rising prices are affecting all of us but for the UK’s poorest families there is no escape from soaring costs because so much of their income goes into the basics that everyone needs to take part in society.
“The symptoms of these astonishing price rises can be seen in the shops and they can be seen in people rationing showers to once a week, giving up milk in their tea and eating cold meals to avoid using the oven. The cause is not simply rising prices – it is the growing gap between what social security provides and the income needed to reach an acceptable standard of living.”
Credit Union Chief Executive Martin Groombridge added: “If you and your family are struggling to get by, it’s important to remember that support is available and it is vital not to turn to high-cost lenders or run up expensive credit card debt. Worst of all, do not be tempted by illegal money lenders, who prey on the most vulnerable at times of difficulty.