In 2022 the cost of living is set to soar, with increased energy prices, National Insurance hikes and inflation rising on goods and products. These increases will push many people into poverty and will make many more homeless, but what about those who are already homeless? How are they expected to survive?
Most of the young people that come to Depaul are on Universal Credit. Some are working part-time, and are already struggling to survive on a low income. Inflation is currently at a 30-year high of 7% but benefits have only risen by 3%; this means a 4% deficit in their income in comparison to their expenses – which is a huge drop for a group already in very precarious circumstances.
For people on Universal Credit who are single and under the age of 25, the standard allowance was previously £257 as of 2021/22. The 3% increase will see this go up by £8 a month. But rising prices on everything else – on food, toiletries, on travel – will see this cancelled out completely.
If a young person is spending £80 to £100 a month on food, £50 a month on travel to get to and from work or college, up to £50 a month for a phone, it’s easy to see how rising inflation will lead to their expenses going up by significantly more than £8 a month, through no fault of their own.
Most young people referred to Depaul UK are already challenged by the fact they don’t have enough money to cover their living expenses or to put food on the table. It just takes one unexpected expense for them to be pushed over the edge, and in real financial trouble.
For young people in this situation, it means a lot of time and energy is spent just struggling to stay afloat, rather than being able to seek opportunities to improve their circumstances and improve their income. They are being limited by what they can achieve not by choice, not by themselves, but by external factors outside of their control. These problems are only going to get worse as the cost of living crisis worsens.
Garry Loney is Depaul’s Money Management Trainer, which is a service is to help young people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness to manage their finances, for budgeting help, debt management help, or help with saving.
He said: “It’s really worrying for me, I see this when I have a conversation with them, and I see it in their faces when I’m looking into their eyes. I can see the worry, I can see the distress.”
He shares the following advice for any young person struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis:
“The most important thing is to know what you’re spending. Tracking your spending is the most important tool you have to keep your finances in check, because only you can predict how you’d spend in the future by looking at how you spend in the past.
“As costs go up, it’s even more important to be prudent and be able to track where your money is going. Even little things – say, only having a takeaway on a weekend – will add up and help you reduce your spending and ultimately maximise your saving. Know your spending is vital for being able to manage your money.”
Hear more from Garry, our Money Management Trainer: