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Cost-of-living data trends

This chart shows the trend for some of our key cost-of-living issues over the past decade, based on the number of people we helped with these issues each month. Use the drop down menu to explore trends for each issue.

As predicted, the cost-of-living crisis got worse at the start of 2024, as the number of people helped with these issues climbed to its highest levels on record.

This included helping a record number of people with crisis support (charitable support and food bank referrals) in January 2024.

Record numbers helped who can't afford to top up their prepayment meters

We continue to break unwelcome records in the number of people we've seen who can't afford to top up their prepayment meter.

In 2022 we saw more people who couldn't afford to top up their prepayment meter than the whole of the previous ten years combined. 

2023 was even worse - and the trend has continue to go up in 2024.

In January 2024, we helped a record number of people who couldn't afford to top up their prepayment meter.

The Government needs to take urgent action to make energy bills more affordable - especially for people on low incomes.

Record numbers helped with crisis support

Crisis support refers to food bank referrals and emergency charitable support.

In 2023, we helped more people with crisis support than in any other year on record - and we helped a record number of people with crisis support in January 2024.

The number of people we're helping with food bank referrals each day had been ticking upwards since June 2023.

The £300 November Cost of Living payments provided some relief - as this upward trend stalled in November.

But, as with the previous Cost of Living payments, this relief was only temporary.

An unequal crisis

The crisis is not affecting everyone equally. For example, disabled people or racially minoritised groups are more likely to need a food bank referral than other groups.

You can use the dropdown menu to explore how many people we're helping with food bank referrals each month by demographic group.

The chart below breaks down the number of people we're helping with crisis support per 100,000 of the population of each ethnicity group.

Record numbers of people helped with homelessness

After a welcome drop in demand in the early months of the pandemic as the Government banned evictions, we are now helping record numbers of people with a homelessness issue.

In January 2024, we helped a record number of people with a homelessness issue - the fourth time this record has been broken in the last 12 months.

Use the drop-down filter to look at the breakdown by different groups. 

Rising private rents, the Local Housing Allowance freeze and the rise in Section 21 ('no fault') evictions have led to a steep rise in private renters needing help with homelessness since the pandemic.

The rise of negative budgets

More than half of the people we help with debt advice are in a 'negative budget', which means their income is not enough to cover their essential costs. This is up from just over one-third in 2019.

Use the filters to explore how this affects different demographic groups.

The average person we help with debt advice used to have £19 left over each month after paying for their essentials. But in January 2024, they had an average shortfall of £36 per month.

Some groups are particularly deep in the red - including single parents, private renters, disabled people, ethnic minorities, the self-employed and, more recently, mortgage holders.

Use the filter bar to see the trends for different demographic groups.

Rising housing and energy costs are driving people into the red

Monthly spending on essentials such as private rent, mortgages and energy are significantly higher than they were two years ago.

Use the filter bar below to explore how much the people we help with debt advice are having to spend on different essential costs.

Record numbers in debt

The number of people we're helping with debt issues is on a general upward trend - and in January 2024, we helped a record number of people in debt.

Energy debt has been on a particularly steep upward trend since the pandemic - and January 2024 was yet another record month for the number of people we've helped with this issue.

Use the dropdown menu to these trends for different debt issues.

Record levels of debt

Among the people we help with debt advice, the average levels of energy debt and rent debt are the highest on record.

People's problems are often deep and complex

This chart shows how when we help people with one cost-of-living issue, we usually help them with another.

For example, of the people we helped with energy issues in 2023, over 50% needed help with crisis support (like food bank referrals or emergency charitable support). This shows that many people who need help with an energy issue are struggling to afford their essentials.