Families face cost of living pressures

John Willoughby, strategic manager of South Holland Citizens Advice Bureau, Spalding.
John Willoughby, strategic manager of South Holland Citizens Advice Bureau, Spalding.

South Holland families are facing a growing nightmare of rising costs, wage freezes and benefit cuts, according to a new report.

Consumer groups and church organisations are studying the findings of a report from anti-poverty group the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which show that living costs have risen by almost 25 per cent in the last five years.

The report, A Minimum Income Standard for the UK in 2013, also revealed that a single person needs to earn at least £16,850 a year before 
tax to have a “minimum acceptable living standard” while a couple with two children needs to earn at least £19,400 each.

Groups such as South Holland Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and Agape Care Foodbank are already dealing with a rising tide of requests for help because of the Government’s welfare reforms and rising energy costs.

John Willoughby, strategic manager for South Holland CAB, said: “In the last financial year (April 2012 to March 2013), about 41 per cent of all our enquiries related to the welfare reforms and quite a few of those were about the changes that came in on April 1.

“We’re definitely running at about 40 per cent in the first quarter of this year and the results of the Rowntree report are likely to have an impact on the number of clients that may need to consider seeing us in the future.”

Both the report and welfare changes announced by the Government last week, including a proposed seven-day waiting period before people can start claiming benefits, will be discussed by the Social Issues in South Lincolnshire group at an event in Long Sutton later this year.

Father Jonathan Sibley, the group’s co-ordinator, said: “As the report says, the cost of living has placed an unprecedented burden on everyone in our community, together with the cuts in services.

“The area of south Lincolnshire is acknowledged to have distinct problems because of its rural nature.”