POVERTY has increased across two-thirds of communities in the UK, as millions go without heat and skip meals, a poll by Christians Against Poverty (CAP) suggests.
The charity’s latest YouGov poll, carried out in February, shows that, of the 2000 people surveyed, half of adults had gone without heat at some point this winter, and more than six million people had gone without heat daily. One third of respondents, including households with children, had skipped meals.
The survey across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland shows poverty rising in all regions. The north-east, Yorkshire, and Humberside record the highest increases: more than 70 per cent of those polled report greater poverty in their areas.
CAP states that almost 42 million people in the UK are estimated to have been affected financially by the cost-of-living crisis, and 10.5 million are experiencing financial difficulty. The report says that a further 13.7 million people would be at risk of financial difficulty with further increases in costs.
CAP’s director of external affairs, Gareth McNab, said that energy and heating costs were affecting everyone, even those in work, and that people were worried about paying their bills. “More than half of the population say that they have lost sleep worrying about their finances: that’s huge,” he said.
CAP supports about 13,000 clients each year, working in partnership with more than 800 local churches to provide free debt help, money-management education, job clubs, and life-skills groups. Its debt-centre managers provide direct advice and help to the growing numbers of individuals and families in crisis.
The survey suggests that 82 per cent of UK adults, 43.4 million, expect poverty to increase in the UK in the next year. It also suggests that 88 per cent of the adult population across the UK believe that it is important that more should be done to tackle poverty
Mr McNab said: “Our latest YouGov poll shows that people across the UK see what we know from experience: that poverty is on the rise, and is likely to get worse unless we all play our part. That is why Christians Against Poverty is launching a new campaign asking people to join the fight against poverty’s stranglehold on local communities.”
CAP is calling on the Government and Opposition parties to make a commitment to tackling UK poverty by reviewing social security and wages against the Minimum Income Standard. It is also asking the Government to ensure that social-security benefits keep pace with living costs.
As part of its new campaign to tackle poverty, CAP is calling for a unified response from policy-makers, energy providers, utilities companies, and financial services to provide targeted funding for local debt help. The charity would also like to see free local debt help, and budgeting courses to help people to gain confidence about managing their money.
One of CAP’s debt-centre managers, Leanne Rivett, who works with people living in poverty in her community, said: “I provide free debt help, and for the last year I’ve been brought to tears witnessing the devastation that poverty has on our clients: seeing parents struggling to feed their children; meeting people having suicidal thoughts, depressed and alone.
“We can’t do this on our own. Our church collaborates with six others, and various charities and organisations in the area. The only way to fight poverty is by working together.”
For more information on the CAP appeal, visit: capuk.org