What’s coming up in 2024?
January is finally drawing to a close, it feels like this January has been particularly long, but now it’s (just about) light until 5pm we can start looking forward to brighter things. The Trust has some exciting plans for the year ahead. The upcoming general election means we’ve got interesting events and reports in the pipeline. We are funding the IFS to keep an eye on what the political parties announce and independently analyse the feasibility of their policy promises. We also have an event with Resolution Foundation on the future of savings next month, see the end of this email for details.
Social security covering fewer basics than before
New research from the Trust’s Policy Advisor, Professor Donald Hirsch, finds that for some working-age groups, benefits cover much less than they did a decade ago.
In 2012, a single person needed to spend 73% of their weekly benefits to cover food and energy costs, leaving around £19 to cover essential items such as clothing, transport and personal goods and services. This picture has worsened significantly over the last decade. In 2023, the cost of just the food and energy needed for a single working-age adult amounted to 22% more than their benefit income provided.
4 in 10 Scottish households describe their energy costs as ‘unaffordable’
This month we published our regular Financial Fairness Tracker for Scotland, analysed by a team at the University of Bristol. It found 38% of households in Scotland recently described their energy bills as unaffordable and a further 51% describe them as only ‘somewhat affordable’.
Energy bills may not be in the headlines as much as they were last year, but many are continuing to feel the pinch. Nearly seven-in-eight Scottish households (85%) have taken some form of action in the past six months to help them to afford their energy bills. Most commonly they have avoided turning on the heating or turned it on less than usual (57%), while it has also become routine for Scots to wear more clothes than usual to keep warm indoors (53%). Other notable actions taken by Scottish households to reduce their energy costs included: reducing the use of their cooker or oven (38%), reducing the number of showers or baths they take (27%) and cutting back spending on food (24%).
Climate Change and Household Finances in the UK
The Trust has launched a new funding programme, Climate Change and Household Finances in the UK. We aim to fund more research, policy work and campaigning activities that will protect and improve the finances and living standards of people on low-to-middle incomes as the UK works towards meeting its climate pledges and ongoing climate threats. As well as making grants for research, policy and campaigning in this programme, we hope to bring stakeholders working on climate, environment, and living standards closer together to make effective policy.
Funding application deadline
The next funding deadline is coming up fast, it’s 5th February 2024. If you don’t have enough time to put your application together, you can submit in the next round, which closes on 3rd June 2024.
Upcoming Event: Saving for today. And tomorrow.
How to boost households financial resilience now, and living standards in retirement
12 February from 9.30am to 10.45am
How do we manage the trade-offs between saving and consumption? Can we save more for our pensions, without leaving people with even less rainy day savings? And what lessons can we learn from approaches that have worked and led to Brits saving more?
The Resolution Foundation – in partnership with the abrdn Financial Fairness Trust – is hosting an in-person and interactive webinar to debate and answer these questions. Following a presentation that outlines the Foundation’s recommendations for building a cohesive savings system, we will hear from leading experts on the issue of savings and financial resilience in the UK.