UK Study Reveals Poorer Households are Finding it Hard to Afford Basic Food Items

UK Study Reveals Poorer Households are Finding it Hard to Afford Basic Food Items

Recent survey published by the Food Standards Agency reveals shocking effects of the cost of living crisis. People from the poorest regions of the UK are buying less food or cutting down on meals as they are finding it hard to afford basic items.

A recent survey conducted by the Food Standards Agency’s consumer index tracker says that when shopping, people in the poorest regions of Great Britain are buying less food and drink products due to surging prices. 61% of those who were questioned said that they have cut back on items, compared to 44% in the least deprived areas of England and 51% across Great Britain in November.

25% of the surveyed said they had skipped a meal or reduced the size of their meals because they could not afford to buy supplies. This is fueled by the cost of living crisis that is curtailing Great Britain. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks have shot up by 16.5% in the 12 months leading up to November, the highest such increase in 45 years.

Staple food items such as breads and cereals have seen the largest price increases, surging by 1.9% in the last month alone, contributing to an annual increase of 16.6%. Inflation for low-income households, where staple foods account for a large share of the monthly budget, stands at 10.5%, while the rate is at 9.1% for high-income households. In November, Britain’s inflation for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) dropped from an all-time high of 11.1% in October to 10.7% – which is still at its highest in over 40 years.

UK Study Reveals Poorer Households are Finding it Hard to Afford Basic Food Items

Food writer and activist Jack Monroe noted that supermarkets across the country have been raising prices in their affordable product range more than in luxury items, piling more pressure on the poor that are in need to save money. She highlighted that, along with prices for cheaper food products soaring, their availability on supermarket shelves had fallen, which is contributing to rising hunger and poverty in the nation. Monroe’s awareness campaign led to German supermarket chain Asda introducing a more extensive budget range in Britain that was aimed at low-income customers.

A study tracking the price of 19,000 items in British supermarkets on a daily basis from July to December found that products priced below 75p saw the fastest rate hikes, at 16%. In comparison, items priced at £1.50 went up by just about 4%, and the cost of those above £5 fell by nearly 4%. Price tracking agency Skuuudle tracked the cost of items which includes value-range products available in supermarkets such as, biscuits, chocolate, snacks, oils, rice, pasta, cans and food packets.

“The price differences made difficult reading for those on low incomes who are seeing the cost of many value items increase but who may not be able to benefit at all from the reduction in price of more expensive items. This change could well be driven by a reduced demand for more expensive items as more people turn to value products during the cost of living crisis,” said a spokesperson for Skuuudle.

Earlier this month, in its attempts to curb rising inflation, the Bank of England (BoE) hiked borrowing interest rates on the pound sterling by 50 basis point to hit 3.5% – which is the largest rate hike in over 30 years. While economists have lauded the efforts of the central bank, many are of the notion that increasing public debt is not the way to bring back an economy that has entered a recession. The country’s poorest families are facing an inflation of over 10% compared to the national average of 9%.

In October, the ONS reported that the overall price of budget food items available in supermarkets rose by 17% in the 12 months to the end of September. This was nearly double the 9% annual increase measured in the year to April. With prices of daily items continuing to outperform pay rises, low-income households are getting poorer month-on-month as the cost of living crisis deepens going into the new year.

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