November 2023 | Fair Point | abrdn Financial Fairness Trust Newsletter

29 November 2023

New Chair for the Trust

It’s not the usual time of year for new beginnings, but we have had quite a major one at the Trust. After seven years leading the Trust as Chair, Alistair Darling stepped down earlier this month. We are sad to see him go, but he’s not going far; we will continue to work with him in his role as Chair of the Pensions Review. 

We are pleased to welcome Sir David Norgrove as our new Chair. Sir David has held a number of chairing roles, including at the Pensions Regulator, the Low Pay Commission, the UK Statistics Authority and the Family Justice Board. We are looking forward to working with him in this next phase of the Trust’s development.

Decent Living Index
New research provides evidence that households with lower incomes are facing greater financial pressures than existing inflation measures are capturing.

The Decent Living Index has been developed by the team behind the Minimum Income Standard (which underpins the Living Wage calculations) at the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University (supported by the Trust). Like the Minimum Income Standard, it is based on household-specific baskets of goods and services that the public agree are necessary to maintain a decent standard of living. It tracks what is happening to the cost of items that people need rather than actual expenditure.

The measure has initially been calculated for two household types: a single, working-age woman, and a couple with two children of pre-school and primary school age. The research compares this new index with Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH) indices over the same period. By May 2023, prices were 23% higher than in January 2022 for a single working-age woman and 16% for partnered parents with two children, compared with 14% based on CPI, and 13% based on CPIH.

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Number of UK residents without welfare safety net increases by more than 1 million in two years
Almost 2.6 million people living in the UK at the end of 2022 held valid visas that, in most circumstances, would deny them access to welfare – an increase of over 1 million in just two years, from just under 1.5 million in 2020 – new research from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford has found. 

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Financial stress harming health of new mothers
The cost-of-living crisis is impacting women and babies living on low levels of maternity pay and benefits, and affecting their health and wellbeing, warns Maternity Action.

A survey of 1,394 mothers who had taken maternity leave at some point between January 2021 and December 2022 reported that, while on leave half (49%) were buying less healthy food and one quarter had gone without food to feed their children.

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Young people not always aware they are using credit
New research from Coventry University (supported by the Trust) on young people’s experiences of using credit found some did not always know that they were actually using credit (e.g. Buy Now Pay Later).  Researchers suggest this may be due to how certain products are marketed on social media by financial services and FinTech providers.

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Learning lessons
There are anti-poverty projects happening across Scotland, but how do policymakers, service users and practitioners learn from the experiences of communities about what works? Glasgow Caledonian University has an answer. Researchers have published a national database (supported by the Trust) to showcase successful anti-poverty projects. The free online directory aims to offer guidance on how projects can be adopted in other areas so users can understand what works and how. Researchers hope that eventually the database will become “the go-to place where anyone interested in tackling poverty can learn what works.”

Take a look