Struggle to cope for millions as the big squeeze tightens

·3-min read

Millions of people would find it “very difficult” to cope with inflation sky-rocketing to 11 per cent, a poll revealed on Monday highlighting the scale of the economic crisis set to hit Britain.

The Ipsos survey for the Standard found a third, 32 per cent of adults, say they would be plunged into a dire financial situation if inflation spirals later this year to the double-digit level forecast by the Bank of England.

A further 52 per cent would have to make some cutbacks but could cope. Fifteen per cent say they would not have to make any changes due to inflation, which was 9.1 per cent in May, climbing by another two percentage points.

Londoners, younger people, women, public sector workers, renters, Labour voters, people from ethnic minorities, semi/unskilled manual workers and those only living off state benefits were all more likely to say they would find it very difficult to cope.

For London, where the cost of living is already higher than in other regions, 49 per cent say they would find it very difficult to cope. This is above the national average of 32 per cent, though the sample size for the regional breakdown was quite small, so these figures need to be treated with some caution.

Four in 10 Londoners, 39 per cent, say they are already finding it very hard to cope. As for the most likely areas of spending where individuals across Britain, if they had to make savings due to such high inflation, would do so:

  • 63 per cent said treats or luxuries;

  • 56 per cent how much they spend on premium or expensive brands (by switching to cheaper or value brands);

  • 52 per cent use of heating, electricity or water;

  • 50 per cent holiday plans;

  • 49 per cent whether or not to buy new large household items such as TVs, furniture or kitchen appliances;

  • 47 per cent going out/socialising with friends or family;

  • 41 per cent travel by car or train;

  • 40 per cent how much food they buy.

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos, said: “Britons tell us that the cost of living is the most important issue facing the country.

“With concern at the highest levels Ipsos has seen in our trends for 40 years, and with many worried about how they will cope if inflation rises to 11 per cent as forecast, we can expect public anxiety to continue.

“This also makes it a key political battleground, with the Conservatives most trusted on growing the economy, Labour to reduce the cost of living, and who is best to manage inflation still an open question. The party who can best set the agenda on this issue could make real headway.”

In terms of most trusted party, the Conservatives were backed by 30 per cent on managing inflation, with Labour on 27 per cent.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party is ahead on reducing “you or your family’s cost of living”, by 33 per cent to 21 per cent, and on “levelling-up” by 34 per cent to 18 per cent.

But Boris Johnson’s Government leads on growing Britain’s economy, by 32 per cent to 26 per cent. Economic optimism has dropped even further, with 77 per cent expecting the general economic conditions of the country to get worse over the next year, and 13 per cent improve, giving a net score of minus 64, compared with minus 57 in May.

This net Ipsos Economic Optimism Index has only been as low as the latest finding in March this year, July 2008 and January 1980.

Half of adults in Britain say they have already had to make some reductions in what they would normally spend due to the level of inflation, with 20 per cent saying they were finding it “very difficult” to cope, and 27 per cent stating they have not had to make any changes.

Ipsos interviewed 1,059 adults in Britain by phone between June 22 and 29. Data are weighted.

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