Cost of living ‘pushes people into poverty’

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ISLANDERS have been urged to share their experiences of the rising cost of living after a survey sparked concerns that more people are being ‘pushed towards poverty’.

Jersey Consumer Council chair Carl Walker has warned further inflation hikes could strike again before the start of the summer as price rises continue to impact Islanders ‘of all backgrounds’.

His comments came shortly after research and consultancy company Island Global Research confirmed it was seeking more respondents to its 2023 cost-of-living survey.

The firm’s managing director, Lindsay Jefferies, said the research was being conducted as a follow-up to a 2022 survey completed by 1,443 Islanders between 5 May and 4 June.

More than half (53%) of those surveyed said they were ‘having difficulty meeting living costs’, of which 58% admitted they would not be able to afford a £100 per month increase in expenses.

Mr Walker said that the results suggested the risk of more Islanders being ‘pushed towards poverty’ was a reality, particularly as the data was collected last summer.

‘Yes, we have had our new government’s mini budget since then, which has spread the net wider in terms of the people who are eligible for help, but we know for a fact that prices have risen much further since this survey was undertaken.

‘What’s really concerning about these figures is that it seems half of those who replied are struggling. That’s a huge proportion and really brings home how the current price rises are impacting Islanders of all backgrounds. We also have nearly two-thirds of respondents worrying that things will get worse. Well they have in the past eight months so I only hope they have been able to make use of the government support on offer, or contacted the various charities and agencies out there who can help,’ he added.

‘It would seem our inflation is running about a quarter or two behind the UK’s. Therefore, we could see further rises again before we get to the summer.’

Ms Jefferies said that Islanders still had time to fill out the 2023 survey, which can be found via the Island Global Research website.

‘Loads of people have shared their views so far but we would like to hear from as many people as possible before the survey closes next week. We are keen to track how things have changed one year on and get a picture of how people are being impacted [by the cost of living] today,’ she added.

Salvation Army officer Richard Nunn has sought to reassure Islanders that they should feel ‘confident and able’ to ask for support, which he said was still keeping pace with growing demand for things like food parcels.

He said that the branch recorded 203 interactions last month – which include any kind of practical support such as an electrical voucher or a food parcel – compared to 122 in the same period in 2022.

‘The anecdotal evidence is that those people who are on the edge are being squeezed. We are getting people who are in employment, I’ve had teaching assistants, postal workers – those kinds of jobs – who are now receiving food parcels.’

However, he added that the charity had been ‘really privileged’ to have been one of the beneficiaries of the Lions Club of Jersey Swimarathon, which saw participants swim a total of 23,314 laps and raise at least £84,000 for charity.

The funds will be used to support Islanders in need, with the three main beneficiaries being the food banks operated by the Grace Trust, the Salvation Army and the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

‘They have done an awesome job to recognise the strain on food banks at the minute,’ Mr Nunn added.

‘As it stands we are keeping up [with demand] and doing OK. The numbers are getting bigger all the time but the support is also keeping up with that at the moment and things like the Swimarathon are magic.’

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