The cost of living crisis refers to a period of time during which the cost of everyday essentials like food and bills increases more quickly than average household income. The UK has been experiencing a cost of living crisis since late 2021.
Although the cost of living crisis affects us all, those of us on lower incomes are disproportionately impacted.
We all need a safe place to call home. It's not right that those of us who are already struggling to find a secure and stable place to live, have to deal with the cost of living crisis too. Crisis research published in March 2022 showed that families on the breadline are facing an average £372 deficit between their Local Housing Allowance and the cost of the cheapest rents in their local areas.
This current crisis combined with existing issues such as rising rents, low wages and a lack of affordable housing has created a perfect storm for people who were already struggling with unrelenting pressure.
With little to no social housing to go around, more and more of us are living in the private rented sector paying record high rents which is eating up over 30% of income. When coupled with rising costs of household bills and necessities, these factors increase the risk of someone being forced into homelessness.
With inflation hitting a 41-year high and the energy price cap due to rise yet again in the Autumn, the situation looks desperate, with no end in sight.
The support package announced in the May 2022 budget was aimed at helping those on low incomes, but the cost of living crisis will continue piling on an extra financial burden for many people. As a society, we can and must do more to ensure that this crisis does not lead to people losing their homes because they cannot afford to pay their bills.
Over the difficult months ahead, we will be supporting people at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis, including those who might be facing the terrifying prospect of becoming homelessness for the very first time.
Our services operate out of our 11 Skylight centres across the UK, where we work with thousands of people who are at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness every year. Although our services are already seeing an increased demand from people who need our help, we will continue to be there for everyone that needs us.
Our front line teams are working flat out trying to find affordable places for our members to live in a situation where rising rents and shortfalls in housing benefit, along with landlords being less willing to rent properties with bills included, are preventing people from finding a secure home that they can afford. Our specialist teams will keep working to negotiate more affordable rents on behalf of members, and we will offer financial support to cover deposits and pay rent in advance if needed.
We will continue to advocate on behalf of our members to ensure that they have access to a proper home they can afford. Our dedicated welfare advisors will be providing expert advice on member's benefits so that they can access support available to them, including financial support such as emergency funding from local councils and loans and grants provided by Crisis. This includes our Housing Access Fund, which provides members with a stipend that they can use to purchase household items needed for their new home.
We will be working closely with food banks across all our services, making as many referrals as possible so that people are not going without essentials they can no longer afford. We will also be taking on more referrals from food banks to our services for people in need of housing support.
As an independent charity, we receive almost no government funding. The generosity of our supporters, including our corporate partners and philanthropy supporters, is what allows us to continue to be there for everyone that needs us, and it is especially important during these tough times.
Your support allows us to deliver a range of our front line Skylight services that support people experiencing homelessness. This includes our engagement and assessment teams, the first port of call for people approaching crisis for the first time, and our lead workers, who work side-by-side with our members, helping them with everything from jobs to supporting them into secure housing.
We're all finding this time difficult but if you're able to give something, then you could stand with someone facing homelessness. No one should have to go without a safe and stable home and with your help we can make sure they don't have to.