As a group, we have been talking for some time about the need to close the gap between income and the cost of living. In January, we posted a blog saying that while the struggle to survive is not a new experience for us, the magnitude of the price increases has led to increased pressure. The damage to our high quality of life and the associated misery for our families - especially our children - should not be underestimated.More leeway
It's been less than a year since we wrote this blog and the even greater financial stress we're all going through now has made it nearly impossible to get by on our current low incomes. Every day we are bombarded with well-meaning advice on how to cut our expenses, but sometimes it can seem condescending. We're already advising on how to get by, budgeting carefully, cutting costs where we want to, and often giving up on what so many consider right.We cannot tighten our belts: our belts are already so tight that we can no longer breathe.
We are past the point where savings advice can close the gap between income and quality of life. We are faced with decisions that we should not be making. No one should have to starve or freeze because the only difference is going into debt. The services we would switch to would also have problems. Increasingly, food bank cupboards are as empty as those they are trying to help.fight against debt
It's easy to understand why people get into debt: it's on us. It often feels like the only approach is to take care of yourself and your family. Buy It Now Pay Later programs offer a solution when your child's varsity sneakers no longer fit or your refrigerator is damaged. And faced with a series of payments that increase at the same time, you usually have to decide how to find a way to wait for which ones. The consequences of debt are not always clear.
As a group, we talked about the impact of the pressures we put on ourselves and our households. It's exhausting living on a low income, always looking at the cost of everything and constantly trying to avoid debt. When you're already in debt, it's hard to get out of it, while even a slight improvement in daily prices can disrupt the precariously tight price range you need to cling to, presumably to reduce your debt. We do all of this while coping with work, a disability, or caring for a loved one.
The UK government's cost of living funds quickly alleviated some of the stress, but it seems they are just keeping some of us from getting into more debt and slowing down the inevitable debt for others. We are afraid of what lies ahead and constantly ask ourselves for tips on how to pay for the things we need.Things change quickly, but also too slowly. I expected to see more now.
Since the introduction of government support, we have faced further increases in value that have exceeded the support provided. Much more needs to be done to stem the rise in indebtedness: we need urgent action to close the gap between income and the value of life.We need an eternal answer, not a one-time cost.Create Caring Communities
We often feel alone when we are struggling, and this feeling of isolation makes the situation even more difficult to manage. However, we know that many more people have the same difficulties. In May, we worked with JRF staff on a report that found that more than 2 million families were not consuming properly or heating their homes properly and 4.6 million families were significantly behind on at least one cleaning bill. We are offended that more people are being pushed into poverty and experiencing the adverse effects on health and well-being that we know all too well.
Cruelly enough, declining mental well-being makes it difficult to access the support needed to deal with mounting debt or seek financial assistance. It is very difficult to trade advanced techniques alone when you are having difficulty. It might even be too difficult for some, who might end up missing much-needed financial help. We know from our focus group discussions that access to guidance services is uneven and non-existent in some parts of the UK. Sometimes the advice given is unclear or even contradictory. We need more help, wherever we live, and to reach those who appear most vulnerable through the businesses they already have access to – and with the communities that know best what their residents need. .Practical help is needed in our communities and it must be available to everyone.Listening and working together – a way forwardIt seems that individuals don't care that they generally don't listen.
Over the past three years, we have thought a lot about how to better respond to people living in poverty. It is eloquently said in the haiku below, probably written by one of our members: