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Survey paints grim picture of cost of living crisis in Wales ahead of Budget

05 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Graffiti highlighting the cost of living crisis. Image: Tim Dennell

New figures reveal the scale of the cost of living crisis across Wales – as nearly two thirds of those questioned in a recent survey say that they feel forced to make financial cuts of some kind, while some admit to feeling “financially desperate”.

As Chancellor Jeremy Hunt prepares to deliver his Spring Budget, the poll of more than 24,000 people, including 1,304 in Wales by Focaldata, for campaign group 38 Degrees, paints a picture of what the cost of living crisis means for finances in households across the UK.

“Worried”

Respondents were asked to place themselves in one of five categories, from “well off” to “financially desperate”.

It revealed that 1 in 4 (25%) respondents in Wales were “worried about their financial future”, and whilst currently keeping up with essential payments, feared they would no longer be able to do so soon, and had no room for extras.

A further 32% were “getting by, but making cutbacks” – whilst not concerned about affording the essentials, they were cutting down on “the things that make life enjoyable”.

Meanwhile 8% describe themselves as “financially desperate,” meaning they’re unable to afford basic essentials, such as food, rent or their mortgage, and are already taking extreme measures such as skipping meals or missing rent payments.

38 Degrees took the words of voters to the streets of Jeremy Hunt’s intended constituency. Image: Steve Porter

Following the polling, campaign group 38 Degrees asked their supporters which category they would put themselves in, and what this meant for their lives, and were inundated with responses from members of the public.

“Financially desperate”

Among those who placed themselves in the “I feel financially desperate” category was Mark Johnson, from Neath, near Swansea. Mark, 55, has been forced to make wide reaching changes to his lifestyle.

He said: “There is no money to have the heating on as much as it’s needed. My house needs repairs, but I can’t afford it, so I have to make do with buckets to catch the water from the leaks.

“Very often there isn’t enough money to replace something that stops working, I just have to learn to do without.

“I can’t afford to go out socialising so I stay home. I’ve had to stop buying certain groceries because I just can’t justify spending that much on food.”

One of the people who described themselves as “getting by, but making cutbacks” was Cheryl Owen, 44, of Cardiff, who said: “We are managing but feel anxious about costs increasing and having less to save.”

This means “fewer days out and not buying non-essentials”.

In the “worried about my financial future” category was Michael Sturley, of Swansea, 64, who had had to cut back on essentials, saying: “Everything is so expensive and my finances don’t always cover my outgoings.”

“Suffering”

Matthew McGregor, CEO at 38 Degrees, said:  “The cost of living crisis is a phrase we’ve all become far too used to hearing over recent years, but this research paints a grim picture of what it actually means to people across Wales.

From the desperate families who can’t afford to put food on the table or keep a roof over their head; to the thousands more who’ve had to cut out the little things that make life enjoyable, most of the country is suffering.

“But this scale of financial hardship isn’t inevitable, and it can’t be allowed to become business as usual.

“In an election year, the whole of Britain has a chance for change: any party looking for election victory must make sure they’re offering real, concrete solutions to this crisis: proper taxes on energy giants to fund support so everyone can heat their homes, measures to keep the roofs over our heads and kids fed, and so we can all get back to living a little.”


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