Young adults and renters are some of the groups of people worst hit by rising prices as official figures show around 1 in 20 said they’d run out of food in the past 2 weeks and couldn’t afford more.
People who couldn’t afford food were most likely to be supported by charities, be lone parents and in receipt of benefits or financial help.
Also more likely to struggle to buy food were ethnically diverse people and black, African, Caribbean and black British adults, along with renters and disabled adults.
Those aged 25 to 34 were at greater risk of financial vulnerability than those over the age of 75, the data showed.
Renters were more likely to report difficulty paying housing costs.
While more than a quarter (28%) of mortgage holders said it was difficult to afford their mortgage, 43% of renters reported it was very or somewhat difficult to afford rent.
Compared to mortgage payers, renters were spending less on food and essentials, were more likely to have run out of food and to be behind on energy bills.
Renters spent an average of 21% of their disposable income on rent, compared to 16% of mortgage payers, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Similarly, disabled adults faced greater financial difficulties than non-disabled adults.
The ONS has published analysis on the impact of the cost of living crisis from February to the start of May, before mortgage rates began increasing in earnest.
It analysed the proportion of people affected by price rises, and the characteristics associated with financial vulnerability.
It comes as the government announced public sector pay rises of between 5% and 7% this week and official figures showed wage growth remained at record high of 7.3%, but was still outpaced by inflation.
Rishi Sunak will take personal responsibility if inflation in the UK has not halved by the end of the year.
The prime minister was speaking to Sky News political editor Beth Rigby during a visit to Washington DC where he will meet President Biden.
Mr Sunak has made a significant amount of noise about his five priorities, which he says are also the “people’s priorities”.
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They include: Halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists, and stop the boats.
He promised in January – when inflation was 10.1% – to tackle price growth to help with the cost of living crisis.
The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics had inflation easing to 8.7% – but food inflation remained at nearly 20% and core price inflation is at a 30-year-high.
“First, we will halve inflation this year to ease the cost of living and give people financial security,” Mr Sunak said in his January speech.
Speaking today, Beth Rigby asked him: “Two of your five pledges – inflation down by the end of the year, the UK out of recession by the end of the year.
“If you fail on either of them, do you take personal responsibility, you don’t blame the Bank of England, you don’t blame consumers, you don’t blame business. It’s on you personally because it’s your personal pledges?”
The prime minister said: “Of course it’s on me personally. I’m the prime minister. I’m the person who set out those five pledges to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists, and to stop the boats, and I intend to deliver on those.”
Mr Sunak added: “When it comes to growing the economy, as you mentioned, we’ve already avoided the recession that many predicted. People are upgrading our growth forecasts as we speak.
Read more: Chancellor comfortable with recession if it brings down inflation Sunak has staked his premiership on five pledges but there are no easy answers
“I’m announcing £14bn of investment into the UK, which is going to support thousands of jobs. And just this week I managed to explain to the country how we’re progressing our boats plan, which means that this year, crossings into the UK down by almost a fifth over the first five months of this year.
“So look, the plans are working, but I’m not complacent. There’s work to do and I intend to deliver.”
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Sunak warns against AI ‘scaremongering’
Asked if it was a “dealbreaker” if he did not deliver for the British public, Mr Sunak said: “It’s absolutely my responsibility. I’ve told the public to hold me accountable.
“They should be able to have politicians who deliver what they say, and that’s what I intend to do.”
Mr Sunak was also asked if – like Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said last week – he was prepared to risk a recession to bring inflation down.
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The prime minister did not deny this might need to happen, saying: “I think what the Chancellor was saying is that inflation is the challenge that we must confront.
“Obviously, monetary policy interest rates are a decision for the Bank of England, so it wouldn’t be right for me to comment on that.”
Labour will continue with its controversial attacks on Rishi Sunak by turning attention to government “failures” over the cost of living crisis.
The Labour leader has described the prime minister as the “chief architect of choices prioritising the wealthiest” as both parties gear up for the local elections next month.
In a letter to his shadow cabinet, Sir Keir Starmer said voters “must know that Rishi Sunak’s fingerprints are all over their struggling household budgets”.
In the memo, seen by Sky News, the Labour leader wrote: “With 24 days left until polling day we must continue to focus relentlessly on exposing the failures of 13 years of this divided and weak Conservative government and demonstrate how we would deliver for working people across the country.”
He added: “Rishi Sunak is the chief architect of choices prioritising the wealthiest and of the government’s failure to get a grip of the economy and get growth going.”
He accused Mr Sunak of “supplying the touchpaper for another Conservative government to blow up the economy” as chancellor and then continuing in No 10 to “make choices which loaded the costs on to working people”.
Sir Keir’s intervention comes after Labour came under fire for a series of adverts which critics have branded “gutter politics”.
The first ad, which was issued on Thursday, read: “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t.”
It cited data from the Ministry of Justice showing that 4,500 adults convicted of sex acts on children avoided a prison sentence since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
Despite the ensuing backlash that came from across the political spectrum, Labour issued a second tweet which accused Mr Sunak of being soft on gun grime and a third which suggested he didn’t think thieves should be punished.
Labour officials have been bullish over the weekend about the effectiveness of their ads, with briefings suggesting they would intensify their efforts despite the criticism.
One Labour source told Sky News: “It’s mission accomplished – we’ve dominated the news agenda and started a serious conversation about the Tories appalling record on crime.”
And in his letter to his top team, Sir Keir said the focus of their local election campaigning should move from crime to the cost of living.
Read more: Labour takes inspiration from Australia with Sunak attack ads – but they need more to pull off a proper ousting Labour tweets second attack ad against Rishi Sunak despite ‘gutter politics’ row
The Labour leader also reiterated directly to his colleagues that he “makes no apologies at all” for the ads despite the backlash.
In an article for the Daily Mail, Sir Keir said he “stand[s] by every word Labour has said on the subject, no matter how squeamish it might make some feel”.
Labour is hoping to reap the benefits of a depressed economy in the 4 May local elections in England, as the Tories continue to struggle in the polls.
However, a new voting intention poll by Redfield and Wilton Strategies showed that Labour is on 44%, a decrease of 1% since last week, while the Conservatives are on 30%, an increase of 2%.
It marks Labour’s narrowest lead over the Tories since Mr Sunak became prime minister in October.
On Tuesday Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves will highlight the party’s pledge to help more first-time buyers on to the housing ladder on a campaign visit to Brighton.
New analysis from the party shows that first-time buyers face a nearly £500 per month hike in mortgage bills in the wake of Liz Truss’s ill-fated mini-budget and interest rate rises.
The Conservatives have been contacted for comment.
UK grocery inflation continued to climb during February to reach a new record high of 17.1%, according to closely-watched industry data.
Kantar Worldpanel reported that the increase over the past 12 months meant that families faced a potential £811 annual rise in the cost of their regular shopping basket.
It had been hoped that a decline in the pace of grocery prices during December would mark a turning point in that element of the cost of living crisis.
But Kantar later revealed that temporary Christmas discounting had been largely responsible, as the big four chains fight to maintain market share amid the challenge posed by discounters and other cheaper rivals.
Its latest report showed that while all of the major stores, with the exception of Morrisons, had expanded sales during the 12 weeks to 19 February, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland had grown their market shares at their expense.
The lure of cheaper own-label groceries saw Aldi achieve a record market share of 9.4% over the period, Kantar said.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons have expanded their own value offerings given the shift in consumer behaviour driven by the wider cost of living crisis.
Food, along with the cost of many other everyday products, has become more expensive largely due to the surge in energy prices seen since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The war can also be blamed for many commodity costs, such as wheat, rising markedly.
While the main rate of inflation has eased from its 11.1% peak seen in October last year, food and other grocery costs have been a major factor behind the CPI measure remaining stubbornly above 10%.
Unilever, which is behind a host of everyday products including Marmite and Magnum ice creams, has been among manufacturers warning that price increases are yet to end.
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Unilever boss warns of more price hikes to come
Producers – just one element of a complicated supply chain – are still grappling rising energy bills and other costs.
It also remains to be seen whether the shortage of salad items, which has forced most supermarkets to limit sales, will become a significant inflationary headwind ahead.
Kantar said that the issue came outside of its reporting window but that it expected to reveal a hit when its next report is published.
Its head of retail and consumer insight, Fraser McKevitt, said: “Shoppers have been facing sustained price rises for some time now and this February marks a full year since monthly grocery inflation climbed above 4%.
“This is having a big impact on people’s lives.
“Our latest research shows that grocery price inflation is the second most important financial issue for the public behind energy costs, with two-thirds of people concerned by food and drink prices, above public sector strikes and climate change.
“One quarter say they’re struggling financially, versus one in five this time last year.
“Living in a tip” is a phrase most people use to describe a messy home.
But for artist Harrison Marshall, it will have a much more literal meaning.
The 28-year-old moved into a converted metal skip in Bermondsey, southeast London, in January, as part of a project aiming to make a “statement” about the “crazy” cost of living in England’s capital city.
He aims to live in the standard eight-yard skip, usually used for storing, moving and dumping waste building material, for the rest of this year.
‘Is it possible to live in a skip?’
Speaking about the project, he said: “For me to live in this area, this was the only option for me to do that, which is just mad.
“When I came back to London I started the hunt for a room, and, obviously, within that timeframe, the prices had gone kind of crazy.
“People were getting hundreds of messages for a single room… it was at the point where if you weren’t willing to put your deposit down the same day as viewing it, you didn’t really stand a chance.
“And so that’s when I started picking up the idea again, about is it actually possible to live in a skip?”
Mr Marshall’s new home comprises a standard 12m x 6m (39ft x 19.5ft) builder’s skip with an insulated timber frame and a barrel roof.
The artist also has access to a portaloo, while he will mostly shower at work or the gym.
He also hopes to be connected to a power source which will enable him to use a heater and a cooker.
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‘Crazy’ living in central London
The skip has been provided for a nominal rate of £50 a month, while the initial build-cost was £4,000.
“I don’t expect other people to pursue this or replicate it,” Mr Marshall said.
“It’s very hard to replicate. So, really, it’s more of a statement and something which tackles or talks about the issue in a light-hearted way and highlights just how crazy it is to live in central London.”
Mr Marshall, who has decorated his new home with friends’ artwork and gifts from his family, described his neighbours as “very friendly” and has even welcomed guests.
He added: “I’ve had friends come over already, everyone wants to come and see the new place.”
The Skip House is part of Skip Gallery, a public art initiative intended to create space and opportunity for emerging artists.
Those suffering “immense anxiety and hardship” amid the cost of living crisis will be remembered by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Christmas sermon, due to be delivered later today.
As well as paying tribute to the late Queen, Justin Welby is also expected to reference the “desperate struggles of hospital wards” as well as those people who make perilous journeys in small boats, when he delivers his annual message.
It is not the first time he has hit out at the “cruelty” of the government’s migrant policy.
Mr Welby is set to tell those listening that despite war and conflicts around the world and financial pressures on people closer to home, there is “unconquerable hope” in the birth of Jesus Christ.
In his first Christmas message since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Mr Welby will praise the example set by the late monarch, who “in obedience to the Christ-child lived a life of service and put her interest after those of the people she served”.
The archbishop visited a church-run food bank in Canterbury in recent days and is expected to express concern for those struggling in a cost of living crisis.
He will say: “In Jesus Christ, God reaches out to each one of us here; to those who like his family have no resources, into the dark cells of prisons, into the desperate struggles of hospital wards, to those on small boats, to the despairing, and even to the condemned and the wicked, and says: ‘Take me into your heart and life, let me set you free from the darkness that surrounds and fills you, for I too have been there. For in me, there is forgiveness, hope, life, and joy, whoever and wherever you are, whatever you have done’.”
He will also refer to the suffering of millions facing famine in South Sudan and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Christmas sermon will be preached during the 11am Christmas Day Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral.
King Charles recorded his first Christmas message earlier this month at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. It will be broadcast during the afternoon.
More people have been turning to tools that block them from gambling amid the cost of living crisis.
Online bank Monzo revealed that it has seen 50,000 of its customers make use of its gambling block tool for the first time over the past six months.
This is a third more than the number of people who started using it in the previous six months.
The lender also blocked 20% more transactions than it did in the prior period, it said.
It added that half a million of its nearly seven million customers have used the gambling block since it launched in June 2018.
The optional tool helps people to curb a gambling addiction by blocking transactions to a betting company through their current account.
And amid growing cost pressures, rising inflation, and shrinking household budgets, it seems more people are turning to the tool.
Once switched on, customers can only deactivate the block by contacting the customer support team and then waiting 48 hours to disable it in the app. This is done to prevent people from acting compulsively.
Online gambling has moved at a dizzying pace into the online era – with casinos and betting shops replaced by smartphones and apps.
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Financial Crisis: Explained
Rise in harmful gambling
Charities have highlighted a rise in harmful gambling in line with cost of living pressures worsening in the UK.
GambleAware recently said it had serious concerns that people, particularly women, expect to gamble more in the coming months in an attempt to supplement their household income.
It also warned that December could see a “perfect storm” of the cost of living crisis, the run-up to Christmas, and the football World Cup pushing more people to resort to betting to cope.
Read more: Man lost £1m in football bets Mothers say ‘gambling kills’ should be on every advert
Other big banks have followed Monzo’s lead, with the likes of Lloyds Bank, NatWest and Chase introducing similar features on their mobile apps.
Last month, Lloyds Bank also introduced personalised gambling spend limits for its customers, which it said was the first of its kind for a UK high-street bank.
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Since the government announced plans to reform gambling laws in 2019, there have been constant delays to the white paper.
The former children’s commissioner for England has warned of families across the country facing “awful conditions” in their social housing, following the death of Awaab Ishak.
The two-year-old died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in his home, managed by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH).
There has been an outpouring of emotion after the toddler’s death, and anger from many quarters over the poor state of the home he and his family were forced to live in – leading to RBH’s chief executive being sacked.
But Anne Longfield, who until 2021 worked as the commissioner with the role of protecting the rights of children, said it was “undoubtedly the case” that other children would find themselves in the same situation.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, she said: “I think we should be shocked by this but we should be really angry too.
“These are absolutely pointless harms and needless harms, they can be prevented, that needs to be the focus now.”
She said she had spoken to families in similar circumstances, adding: “We are talking about cramped conditions but [also] cold, mould, rat infestations, places which, as the coroner said in Awaab’s case, really are not fit for human habitation.”
Ms Longfield praised Housing Secretary Michael Gove for his willingness to focus on the issue, after he wrote to every English council leader and social housing provider to put them “on notice” over the “abhorrent” conditions that killed Awaab.
But she said: “My message to him would be to make this a mission. It is in plain view, it is in front of us, it is one of those things that compounds so many social problems around children growing up in poverty.
“But it needs that determination and leadership [to fix it].”
What started as a few football bets left one man a million pounds in the red, facing jail time and contemplating taking his own life.
And he is not the only one.
With the World Cup kicking off in just five days’ time, more than a quarter of football fans say they feel anxious about how much they might lose while betting during the tournament, a new survey has found.
Financial pressures and the rising cost of living may also drive some to gamble more than they intend.
Meanwhile, six in 10 said they agreed there are too many gambling adverts during international tournaments, the research for charity GambleAware said.
Chris (not his real name) began gambling aged 16 – below the legal age – and for the next two decades focussed almost entirely on football betting.
After a few years, the habit became “more progressive and more destructive”.
He progressed to a career where he earned more money – with “access to wealthy people” – and it reached the point where he couldn’t watch a football game without place a bet of between £500 and £1,000.
At one point, he said he “owed just over a million pounds to gambling”.
“I had this relationship with football where I felt I knew about football,” he told Sky News.
“But as the gambling progressed, understanding goes out the window and gambling is erratic and it doesn’t become about the knowledge anymore.”
Gambling ‘as much money as I could get hold of’
While Chris was visiting betting shops up to three times a day, smartphone apps now mean people can gamble from the comfort of their own homes – and with that ease can come devastating losses.
GambleAware said 43% of football fans plan to bet during this year’s World Cup and among those, 39% admitted that financial pressures might drive them to gamble more than intended.
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“My bets would become very heavy around the World Cup and the Euros,” Chris said, adding that the tournament would “consume” him.
“My traditional bets for a normal Saturday would be around a £500 treble, and in the World Cup it would go into the thousands.”
He would place bets with as “much money as I could get hold of”.
When he couldn’t afford to place any more bets, he started stealing from his employer – and was eventually convicted of fraud and handed a 24-month suspended sentence.
The shame and the guilt around gambling led Chris to try to take his own life, and he was placed in psychiatric care.
Attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings led him to work as a peer supporter for Betknowmore UK’s Peer Aid program, and he now works with others facing addiction.
Read more: Footballers and celebs to be banned from gambling adverts
Campaign backed by ex-players
GambleAware has launched a new campaign to help fans who gamble to avoid what they called “Bet Regret” in the coming weeks as betting promotions on social media and TV ramp up.
The campaign, backed by the Football Supporters Association (FSA) and former players including Peter Shilton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Lee Hendrie, encourages people who bet to manage their behaviour by deleting apps and setting a spending limit.
Ex-England goalkeeper Shilton struggled with gambling addiction for 45 years.
He said it took a “massive toll” financially and on his mental health, and credited his wife for her support throughout the ordeal.
Urging others to ask for help if they need it, he said: “I’ve seen first-hand how easy it can be to get carried away and place an impulsive bet, especially when betting promotions are all around you.
“I’d urge everyone to stop and think, is my gambling out of control? If so, reach out for support.”
Universal ‘sinking feeling’
More than half of people (56%) said it is easy to lose more money than expected, the survey of 2,000 fans by Opinium showed.
The results suggested that 28% of supporters said they felt anxious about how much they might lose in bets during the tournament, which begins in Qatar on Sunday.
GambleAware defined “Bet Regret” as the universal “sinking feeling” that people can experience after making an impulsive bet, often when drunk, bored or chasing losses.
Zoe Osmond, the charity’s chief executive, warned that cost of living pressures as Christmas approaches could lead to the “perfect storm” as people are tempted to gamble more.
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She said: “This should be an enjoyable time for all football fans, but with the sheer volume of football and the amount of betting ads, it can be easy to get carried away with betting – and we can see that many fans are already feeling anxious about this.
“As the cost of living crisis bites and people feel the pinch in the run-up to Christmas, this could create a perfect storm where fans resort to gambling as a way to cope.
“This can have the opposite effect, both financially and in terms of mental health.”
Gambling minister Paul Scully welcomed the campaign “to help raise awareness of practical actions people can take to avoid gambling-related harms”.
He said the government is undertaking a “comprehensive review” of current gambling laws “to ensure they are fit for the digital age, including considering the evidence on gambling advertising and marketing”.
Anyone concerned about their gambling, or that of a loved one, can visit BeGambleAware.org for free, confidential advice and support, or The National Gambling Helpline is available on 0808 8020 133 and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.