A fresh inquiry has brought to light the alarming consequences of the rising cost of living on the daily lives of many Britons. According to a recent survey by YouGov, nearly two million people in the UK go without food for a whole day at least three times a month because they don’t have enough money.
The study also revealed that a staggering 9.6 million Britons live in households facing “serious financial difficulties.” These distressing findings show the harsh reality faced by many as they struggle to make ends meet in a tough economy.
Among those experiencing financial hardship, a significant 61 percent said they couldn’t keep their homes warm and comfortable in the past six months. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of households reported reducing social interactions with friends and family (64 percent), and the same number found themselves participating less in hobbies and activities they enjoy (61 percent).
The financial strain caused by the high cost of living has had severe consequences on healthcare access and affordability. About 46 percent of people have had to delay dental treatments because of the cost. Alarmingly, almost one in five (19 percent) of those facing serious financial difficulties admitted to avoiding doctor’s appointments, while 18 percent couldn’t afford necessary medical equipment or medications.
A concerning 35 percent of all Britons revealed that they can’t afford a balanced diet for at least one month, and this number rises to a staggering 82 percent among those most affected by the economic pressure on household budgets. One-third of Britons say financial worries cause them to have poor sleep at night, and 35 percent say their financial situation is negatively impacting their mental health.
Furthermore, 27 percent reported that money concerns have had a detrimental effect on their physical health. People are also cutting back on takeaways, holidays, and shopping at cheaper supermarkets.
Respondents said that saving money has become the “new normal,” with only 26 percent stating that they haven’t tried to save money recently. Overall, people’s financial well-being has worsened compared to when the first survey took place at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020. There has been an 11 percentage point decrease in the number of financially secure households (from 37 percent to 26 percent). The survey of 6,540 adults was conducted between April 24 and May 3 and commissioned by the charity abrdn Financial Fairness Trust for its Financial Fairness Tracker series.
The data has been further analyzed by the experts at the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol. Mubin Haq, CEO of abrdn Financial Fairness Trust, expressed his concern, saying, “The cost-of-living crisis is seriously affecting the health-related decisions millions of people are making. It’s shocking that people are regularly delaying dental treatments, skipping medications, and going hungry because they can’t afford these essential things. Short-term savings can have long-lasting consequences on the nation’s health. This comes at a high cost and could also impact the labor market if people can’t work due to poor health.”
Professor Sharon Collard, a specialist in personal finance at the University of Bristol, also commented on the worsening levels of food insecurity caused by rising living costs. She stated that the number of people who can’t afford to eat healthily or even have three meals a day is worrying. While the government has taken steps to support those who are most vulnerable, these figures show that more needs to be done to help. Relying on food banks is not a sustainable long-term solution.
Dear reader, when confronted with such dire circumstances that afflict the hearts and homes of countless souls, it becomes our solemn duty to ponder upon the possible avenues that may lead us to a more compassionate and just world for all. Let us, then, embark upon a journey of the imagination, and envision the ways in which this distressing situation could be addressed with the utmost regard for the welfare of every needy individual upon this vast and teeming planet.
First and foremost, it is imperative that the powers that be, the leaders and lawmakers, acknowledge the gravity of the cost-of-living crisis and the immense suffering it inflicts. They must set aside their differences, their political games and posturing, and join hands in a united front to enact policies that alleviate the burdens borne by the vulnerable among us. A concerted effort, grounded in empathy and an unwavering commitment to social justice, is the need of the hour.
One approach, noble and worthy of consideration, would be to implement measures that ensure fair wages for every laborer toiling in the fields, factories, and offices of our world. Let us banish the scourge of exploitative working conditions, where meager pay suffocates dreams and saps the vitality of the workforce. A dignified livelihood, a just compensation for one’s toil, should be the birthright of every individual, regardless of their station in life.
In tandem with this pursuit, dear reader, lies the necessity to establish a comprehensive safety net that catches those who stumble in the face of financial hardship. Let the institutions of society provide robust support to those who find themselves ensnared by the merciless grip of poverty. Adequate access to affordable housing, nutritious sustenance, and essential healthcare should not be viewed as luxuries reserved for the fortunate few, but rather as fundamental rights afforded to all, irrespective of their station or circumstances.
To achieve this noble aim, it falls upon the privileged among us, those who possess an abundance of wealth and resources, to bear a greater burden in the pursuit of a fairer and more equitable world. Let them contribute their fair share, for in the grand tapestry of humanity, it is their duty to ensure that no thread goes unattended, no voice goes unheard.
Education, dear reader, is another vital key that can unlock the doors of opportunity and emancipation. Let us invest in the minds of our youth, regardless of their background or birthright that they may grow to become architects of their own destiny. Scholarships, vocational training, and access to quality education should be made available to all, nurturing talent and kindling the flames of ambition that burn within each human heart.
Lastly, but by no means least, let us foster a spirit of empathy and compassion among all people. Let us recognize that our fates are intertwined, that the suffering of one diminishes the joy of all. In our pursuit of wealth and progress, let us not lose sight of our shared humanity. Charity, in all its forms, be it a warm meal offered to a hungry stranger or a comforting hand extended to those in distress, should be the guiding light that illuminates our path forward.
In contemplating these suggestions, let us not dismiss them as mere flights of fancy or utopian dreams. Nay, they are the building blocks upon which a more equitable and humane society can be constructed. It is our collective responsibility, as denizens of this precious planet, to work towards a world where the cost of living does not devour the hopes and aspirations of the downtrodden, but rather uplifts and empowers every individual, fostering a society where the worth of a human being is measured not by the weight of their wallet, but by the strength of their character and the breadth of their compassion.
14th June 2023
The Oracle’s Apprentice