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The Cost-of-Surviving Crisis

By Genevieve Hack, BA Development Economics

The agonising effects of the cost-of-living crisis have been felt across the entirety of the population. COVID-19 lockdowns and the ongoing war in Ukraine have been the two main drivers of inflationary pressures, however, this is not to deny responsibility for the part which the UK government also had to play. The situation is bleak, and even more so for groups that are disproportionately vulnerable to financial instability. Rising energy costs have left older generations sitting alone in cold homes, while young people are struggling to enter unstable job markets. 

Two years have passed since the term ‘cost-of-living’ first became a frequent topic of conversation among the general public. According to the Bank of England, inflation reached a peak of 11% in 2022, which plunged the UK into a deep recession that we still endure the effects of. The rising cost of energy and food bills, coinciding with stagnating wages and lack of affordable housing, has set the UK population on a downward trajectory towards the state of collapse. Younger and older generations remain especially exposed to the long-term effects of the cost-of-living crisis. 

UK Youth, a charity focused on the empowerment of young people, has expressed growing concerns regarding the repercussions of the cost of living crisis on young people. The research conducted by Censuswide reveals that 76% of young people are concerned that the crisis will affect their ability to secure a stable job. A shocking 20% reported that their access to regular meals has been negatively impacted. Youth-centred organisations have faced greater demand for services, as well as increased operating costs, yet government funding has decreased as a result of cuts in public spending. At the hands of UK government policy that neglected the importance of public services, reduced access to youth-support services has left many adolescents in extremely precarious situations. 

High levels of inflation have had a direct impact on the health of older generations, as they struggle to heat their homes and face increasing costs of healthcare. The rising cost of living has seen 22% of older people reducing or stopping their consumption of medications or specialist foods, according to a survey conducted by Age UK. We are witnessing a rapid decline in the quality of life of older people as increased prices are increasingly associated with an increased death toll. NHS services are under pressure now more than ever to provide for more older people who remain trapped in unsafe environments and unpredictable financial circumstances. 

Despite the dismal situation we find ourselves in amidst the ongoing economic crisis, the future outlook remains dire. The BBC reported that the typical annual household energy bill is set to rise by an approximated 5% from January and the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed that new measures in the Autumn budget will result in a £19bn reduction in spending on public services after accounting for inflation. The failure of the Autumn budget to address the pressing issues of rising death tolls, job insecurity and direct risks to health, to name a few, is indicative of the Conservative Party’s ignorance of the realities of the non-elite. 

“The relenting cost-of-living crisis has plunged the UK population into a state of emergency.”

The unrelenting cost-of-living crisis has plunged the UK population into a state of emergency. Public services have been pushed to the brink due to underfunding, increased demand for services, and rising costs. The looming winter months pose a daunting reality, and government action is urgently required to implement greater access to vital services on which so many people – young and old – depend. 

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