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Cost of Living

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What is Cost of Living?

The ‘cost of living crisis’ refers to the fall in ‘real’ disposable incomes (that is, adjusted for inflation and after taxes and benefits) that the UK has experienced since late 2021 (Institute for Government).

The annual rate of inflation reached 11.1% in October 2022, which is a 41 year high according to the House of Commons Library. The highest increases have been in energy costs, fuel costs, food, and increases in the Bank of England Interest Rate to manage inflation. This has resulted in higher mortgages and rent increases, as costs for landlords are increasing.

A lot of advice is available to support individuals and communities with managing Cost of Living. However, the Wales Safer Communities Network want to ensure that everything is done safely.

The Scottish Community Safety Network have written a briefing paper which lists the ten key issues in Scotland.

The following are some of the key areas in Wales.

  1. Road safety: Car maintenance still applies, including insurance, MOTs, and making sure that all parts of the car are in good working order. This includes tyres, wipers and lights, which are even more important in winter. A reduction in the number of vehicles on the road does not make it safer to drive fast or break the law by exceeding the speed limit. When walking or cycling, keep safe by staying on pavements where possible, and ensure that you are clearly visible to vehicles. Apps such as Hollie Guard, Evans Halshaw, or Autodeutsche can also be utilised from a phone for safety.
  2. Community services: There is a possibility that some community services will operate at reduced hours, such as leisure centres, libraries, and other venues. This may result in a reduction in skills (such as swimming), decrease in health and mental health due to reduction in exercise, and an increase in loneliness. As disposable incomes drop, attendance may not be affordable. In Wales, there are warm hubs or warm spaces opening up. These are buildings where you can go to be warm, have a warm drink and socialise. See your council website for more information.
  3. Fire safety: Fire safety advice remains the same. Don’t leave candles unattended. Don’t run machines whilst you sleep. Don’t overload sockets and don’t try to access electricity and gas illegally. Use the correct charger or connector for devices. Don’t use outside cooking equipment inside. Have the chimney swept regularly. Check and change the batteries in smoke and CO2 detectors.
  4. Purchasing: Reduced budgets may lead to cheaper goods that do not have the same safety standards, and counterfeit goods, which may increase electrical or other fire risks, suffocation, contamination and choking by items not meeting legal requirements. To avoid this, know your rights and the standards that are required.
  5. Boiler maintenance: Maintaining a boiler can be cost effective, however if there is not the money available there is a risk this could be skipped leaving boilers unfit for use (HSE: Gas safety; Welsh Government: Boilers and heating).
  6. Care: Children and adults in need of care services are under pressure but also those who pay for themselves may not be able to afford as much when they also need to keep the house warm, leading to increases in financial and mental health pressures (Public Health Wales; Yma).
  7. Lighting: There has been mention of national blackouts. This could lead to a significant number of people using candles to light rooms, substantially increasing fire risk, but also increase the risk of trips and falls with less well-lit areas (Home Safety).
  8. Acquisitive crime: There is the potential for increased thefts, break-ins and shoplifting as people try to meet their basic needs (Which?).
  9. Domestic abuse: “Those suffering domestic abuse are likely to feel a greater sense of entrapment, owing to financial ties and complexities with partners and families, unable to escape abusive relationships. The cost of living emergency is expected to exacerbate some abuses, resulting in higher volumes of coercion, assault, serious injury and fatalities” (Scottish Community Safety Network).
  10. Scams and fraud: “Citizens will be increasingly exposed to attempted online phishing scams and fraud via email, and blackmail through social media, email and mobile phones. There has been an increase in these crimes since the pandemic began in 2020. This is expected to accelerate as organised criminal gangs (OCGs) exploit these avenues further. OCGs are expected to expand these activities and continue to recruit children, young adults, the vulnerable; those most susceptible to coercive suggestion and intimidation. Loan sharks will also seek to exploit an increasing number of citizens, including those who perhaps have never known destitution” (Scottish Community Safety Network).

Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

If you’ve witnessed or been the victim of crime, please report it to the Police. Call 101 or report it online depending on your region within Wales – South Wales PoliceDyfed Powys PoliceGwent Police or North Wales Police. In an emergency, call 999.

If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, use the Police textphone service 18000 or text on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

If you have information about crime and wish to remain anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.

If you’ve been affected by crime, you can access support from Victim Support, including via their free 24/7 national support line 08 08 16 89 111, or get support online.

You may wish to consider joining Neighbourhood Watch, or other police supported initiatives such as OWL – Online Watch Link.

For more information on how you can keep yourself safe from crime, visit our Personal Safety page and for specialist help and support, visit the individual Topics sections of our website.