Cost of living: Families warned they face £400 monthly hit

·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
RADSTOCK, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 06:  A young girl plays with toys at a playgroup for pre-school aged children in Chilcompton near Radstock on January 6, 2015 in Somerset, England. Along with the health and the economy, education and childcare are to be key issues in the forthcoming election.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Households with children are facing a heavy blow to their household budgets amid the spiralling cost of living. (Getty Images)

Experts have warned families with children are facing a significant crunch in their household budgets amid the rising cost of essentials like food and fuel.

The cost-of-living crisis continued to deepen in May, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting that inflation hit a 40-year high at 9% in the 12 months to April 2022.

New research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) by Loughborough University has revealed that families with children are facing £400 extra costs in their budgets each month.

Read more: Iain Duncan Smith says government must help poor by increasing Universal Credit

The family budgets were calculated using the minimum income standard (MIS), which is based on items the public think are needed to achieve an "acceptable" standard of living.

Pressures on those budgets are being driven by doubling fuel costs, food inflation hitting 9.3%, and childcare increases reaching 6.7%.

File photo dated 22/07/09 of a shopper in a supermarket as food inflation reached 2.5% in March, the highest rate since November 2013, according to the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index. Last year???s weather saw farmers contending with delays to planting caused by February???s Beast from the East followed by rain leading to flooding in some areas in April and then an extended summer heatwave affecting crop yields.
The Office for National Statistics reported inflation hit 9% in the 12 months to April, a 40-year high, driving up the cost of essentials like food and fuel. (PA)

The foundation says the average family each month is spending an extra £120 per month on energy, £90 on transport including petrol and £65 on childcare.

It comes after the experts warn Brits on the lowest incomes are facing inflation at 10.2% due to spending a higher proportion of their income on food and fuel.

Watch: You'll have to wait for more cost of living help, says Boris Johnson

Peter Matejic, deputy director of evidence and impact at JRF, said the poorest families have "no escape" from soaring costs.

Read more: E.ON boss says number in fuel poverty will double in October - 'This is too big for us to manage'

“The symptoms of these astonishing price rises can be seen in the shops and they can be seen in people rationing showers to once a week, giving up milk in their tea and eating cold meals to avoid using the oven," said Matejic.

May 2022 inflation correct one
Inflation hit a 40-year high in the 12 months to April 2022. (ONS)

"The cause is not simply rising prices – it is the growing gap between what social security provides and the income needed to reach an acceptable standard of living."

He added: “The chancellor needs to recognise the urgency of this situation and realise that he really does have the power to protect the worst off from being pulled under.

"This cost of living crisis is being keenly felt, and will get worse without decisive action.

"The government has the power and can choose to use the benefits system to uprate in line with inflation, ensuring that nobody falls below an income that allows them to afford the basics for themselves and their family”.

Read more: Inflation warning over train fare ticking time bomb

Matt Padley, associate director and senior research fellow at the centre for research in social policy at Loughborough University, said there has been a "dramatic increase" in cost for the poorest families to "participate in our society".

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks at the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) annual dinner in London, Britain, May 18, 2022. Peter Nicholls/REUTERS
Rishi Sunak is coming under pressure to provide more financial support as the cost-of-living crisis deepens. (Reuters)

“Particularly stark is the increase in the cost of home energy and this is set to rise even further later in the year," said Padley.

"As a consequence of these increases, lots of households will have to cut back, making difficult choices about what to go without, and which of their needs to prioritise.

“Households in the UK in 2022 shouldn't have to make these sorts of decisions."

Labour has criticised the government for not doing more to help with the cost of living, and called for a windfall tax to fund more energy bills support.

After months of the government defending existing support, on Monday Boris Johnson indicated that help was one the way - but said the public "have to wait a little bit longer".

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