The UK is reportedly living through the biggest cost-of-living crisis seen in decades, with the cost of essentials such as food, fuel and housing rising significantly faster than income.

The after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ongoing energy crisis and record high consumer prices have combined to make this an increasingly challenging time for households, and we have seen a significant increase in the number of clients who are finding it difficult to keep up with everyday living costs. In 2022, we supported 40,723 clients in Plymouth and beyond through our local and national projects. More than 3 in 4 clients who contacted us were seeking help with increased living costs.

Increasingly, we are seeing households who have already done everything they can to reduce spending and maximise their budgets and are now relying on emergency help in the form of charitable support and foodbanks to cover the cost of daily living essentials.

Therefore, we will continue to monitor the impact of increased living costs on our clients and look for solutions to address key cost-of-living issues.

What have we done so far?

  • We have been collecting evidence on how increasing costs are affecting our clients. The evidence has been shared with our national team who use all the intelligence for further influencing.
  • We are using the evidence we have gathered in our discussions with local decision makers. In September 2022, we presented our Cost of Living report to the Plymouth City Council’s Health and Wellbeing board. In July 2023, we shared insights from our evidence and client case studies at the Plymouth City Council’s Cost of Living event, to help inform the Cost of Living Action Plan.
  • Using funding from Plymouth Octopus Project, we have delivered presentations to raise awareness of our services and how to access them amongst diverse groups across the city. We have also created a toolkit of resources in accessible language, to support clients in managing key cost of living issues like debt and energy efficiency – access the toolkit here.
  • We have produced a report looking at the impact of increased living costs on Citizens Advice Plymouth local and national clients from 2019 until 2022. See insights from the report below or read the full report here.
  • We are monitoring the situation and trying to find opportunities to improve the situation for our local and national clients.

What have we found out:

  • 80,668 local and national clients contacted Citizens Advice Plymouth about issues relating to the cost of living 2019 – 2022.
  • Energy debts had the highest enquiry rates accounting for nearly 1 in 2 enquiries
  • 1,048 unique clients were advised on issues relating to prepayment meters – an average of 230 every month.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 of our clients were female in 2022, and there has been a significant decrease in male clients over the 4 year period. 
  • 9 in 10 clients affected by issues relating to the cost of living were of working age.
  • 1 in 3 clients presenting with issues relating to the cost of living were from single person households.
  • The number of clients with disabilities and health problems/issues has increased by 14 percentage points since 2019. In addition, the number of clients with multiple impairments has increased.
  • Nearly half of those needing advice on cost of living issues were renting from social housing associations or local councils, 1 in 3 rented privately, only 10% had mortgages, 6% owned the property and 4% didn’t have a fixed abode.
  • More people in employment needed help with living costs as nearly one third of our clients were in some sort of employment or self-employed, one quarter were permanently sick or disabled and 18% were unemployed and seeking paid employment.

Download the report from the link below