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Social Justice

Two thirds of UK adults squeezed by cost of living increase in January

The vast majority of households have already seen everyday prices rise in 2022 thanks to the cost of living crisis – with poor households hardest-hit.

Two-thirds of British adults have already been affected by the cost of living crisis in 2022, according to new data

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Opinions and Lifestyle Survey for January has revealed nine in 10 of the adults reporting increased costs have seen their grocery shopping rise in price, while eight in 10 are facing more expensive energy bills. 

The data lays bare the extent of the ongoing cost of living crisis, which has been driven by rocketing inflation and increases in the wholesale price of gas.

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Though grocery shopping and energy costs were cited as the main drivers, some respondents reported an increase in transport costs and rent or mortgage costs as well.

Rising energy prices have been dominating headlines for several months thanks to a dramatic rise in the cost of wholesale gas.

Though most households across the UK are being affected, the ONS survey points out increases will hit the poorest households the hardest. 

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This is because poorer households spend a larger proportion of their income on essentials such as food and heating.

In 2020, the poorest 10 per cent of UK households spent more than half (54 per cent) of their income on essentials like food and transport, while the richest 10 per cent spent less than half (42 per cent). 

The rising cost of living has led to reports of households being forced to choose between heating and eating, or dramatically cut back on shopping for essentials – a situation reflected in the ONS survey.

Almost a third of respondents (32 per cent) who said their cost of living had risen reported cutting back on energy use, while more than half (53 per cent) said they had cut back on shopping for non-essentials. 

Experts have warned the situation is likely to deteriorate further in April, which will see a hike in National Insurance for working age people and an end to the energy price cap, with bills expected to rocket from an average of £1,277 a year to as much as £2,000.

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Boris Johnson has faced pressure from his own party in recent weeks over the planned increase in National Insurance, with some MPs calling for the tax to be scrapped in order to tackle the cost of living crisis. 

Labour has also called for a moratorium on the tax hike, with shadow levelling-up secretary Lisa Nandy warning that “it’s just simply not possible for a lot of people to survive” if the increase goes ahead.

Johnson has since confirmed the tax rise will continue as planned, in a joint letter with Rishi Sunak published by The Sunday Times.

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