80% of Britons are feeling impact of cost of living

Martin Lewis advises viewers to 'stick on price cap' for energy

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This compares to 62 percent last November, data from the Office for National Statistics found. Food, fuel, clothes, travel and household bills have all been rising steadily in recent months, with inflation now running at 6.2 percent, its highest level for 30 years. From next month National Insurance will also rise by 1.25 percentage points to pay for the new social care system.

Meanwhile, there are additional price increases for stamps, water bills, broadband and phone packages and pints of milk and beer.

And from tomorrow (Friday April 1), the energy price cap is lifted which will see gas and electricity costs skyrocket.

Sarah Pennells, consumer finance specialist at the mutual Royal London said: “The cost of living is rising faster than at any time in the last 30 years, causing a real challenge to households up and down the country who are trying to make ends meet.

“Unfortunately, the situation is set to get worse from April as life becomes even more expensive with further energy price rises and the increase in National Insurance contributions kicking in. 

“From our own research, we know household finances are being stretched to such an extent that 95% of UK adults worried about rising costs.

“The issue is so widespread that people across the earning spectrum are feeling the pinch.

“Many people are planning changes to their outgoings to pay for cost-of-living increases, but anyone who feels they’ve run out of options should ask for help from debt advice charities and make sure they claim all the help they are entitled to in the way of state benefits or other government support.”

The 13,030 people questioned by ONS researchers were most likely to cite food as a reason for increased costs – 90 percent of adults said their food shop has risen in price.

Gas and electricity bills (79 percent) and the price of fuel (71 percent) are other common hits to household finances.

More than half (51 percent) of respondents whose costs are going up said they are cutting back on non-essentials.

Thirty-six percent are shopping around more, 34 percent are using less gas or electricity at home and 31 percent are spending less on food and essentials.

Dr Jackie Mulligan, a member of the Government’s High Streets Task Force and ShopAppy founder, said the new data shows the “extreme gravity” of the situation facing people across the country.

She added: “The Government seems completely out of touch with the reality of how hard the cost-of-living crisis is hitting people and the level of anxiety it is causing.

“I am particularly concerned for the small high street retailers we support as many of them are family businesses, meaning they are getting hit by rising business and household costs at the same time.

“Many feel like the walls are closing in on them and more support is needed, especially as many are having to cope with significant levels of debt accrued during the pandemic.”

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the food charity FareShare, said: “With predictions that inflation is set to rise yet further, the ongoing impact that the conflict in Ukraine is having and expected tax rises, it’s clear that many families – who faced furlough and uncertainty during the pandemic, are now experiencing added difficult hardship. “

Rising petrol prices have prompted more than 100,000 people to sign a petition calling for further cuts to fuel duty.

The milestone means the petition, which calls for fuel duty and VAT on fuel to be slashed by 40 percent for two years, will now be considered for debate by MPs.

Although the Chancellor Rishi Sunak cut the duty by five pence a litre in last week’s spring statement, fuel retailers have been accused of failing to pass on the cut to motorists.

With VAT the discount should be worth six pence, but the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts has fallen by just 3.8p per litre.

RAC fuel spokesman, Rod Dennis, said: “If the Treasury wasn’t aware of the strength of feeling when it comes to fuel prices before the spring statement, it certainly will be now.

“And, with fuel prices still some way off reflecting the full duty cut, it’s understandable that so many drivers remain disappointed when they come to fill up.
“There is now pressure on some retailers to show that drivers really will benefit from the duty cut and, on the Government, as to whether enough has been done to help drivers.”

The ONS report examines the impact of the increased cost of living between November 2021 and March 22. 

It found that the retired are more likely to be able to deal with an unexpected extra hit to their finances.

Pensioners are around half as likely as those in employment to be unable to deal with a one-off £850 bill that comes out of the blue.

In total, 29 percent of adults reported that their household could not afford such an extra outlay.

This was likely to be higher if the person was on a lower income, rented their home, did not have qualifications, or had dependent children.

Those aged between 25 and 34 were the most likely age group to report difficulties with an expense of that size.

And people living in the North East were twice as likely to say the expense was unaffordable than those in London.

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