Wales’ most influential think-tank, the Bevan Foundation, reveals that the cost-of-living crisis is set to have a devastating impact this winter.

New insights gathered by YouGov on behalf of the Bevan Foundation have revealed that no progress has been made in reducing the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on Welsh families. More than one in seven households (15 per cent) sometimes, often or always struggled to afford essential items in July 2023. This is almost unchanged on the position in January 2023 when 14 per cent of Welsh households struggled to afford essentials.

Dr Steffan Evans of the Bevan Foundation said: “As inflation finally begins to slow down, there may be hopes that the worst of the cost-of-living crisis is behind us. However, our latest findings reveal that things are simply not getting better on the ground, and for thousands of people life continues to be extremally difficult.”

Across Wales a quarter of people (26 per cent) report that they are eating smaller meals or skipping meals in their entirety as they struggle to manage their finances. Others have been pushed into debt, with 29 per cent of people borrowing money and 13 per cent being in arrears on a bill.

The one area where life has improved is in the proportion of people going without heating. In the three months to January 2023, 39 per cent reported that they had gone without heating in their home. In the three months to July 2023 this had reduced to 27 per cent. With people using less heating over the summer, however, this figure could rise again as temperatures fall.

There are concerns that the challenges faced by people this winter could be particularly acute with much less support being made available for people struggling with high costs than was the case in 2022.

Dr Steffan Evans warned: “During the Covid-19 pandemic and over the winter of 2022 we saw the UK, Welsh and local governments step up and provide significant support to protect people. To date, the support promised for the coming winter has been much less significant. With no signs that the grip of the cost-of-living crisis on families is easing, now is not the time to be taking a backwards step.”

Whilst people across the nation are continuing to feel the pinch, the impact of the cost-of-living crisis is particularly severe for some groups of people. For people on benefits, renters, disabled people and parents of children under 18, making ends meet is proving especially difficult.

A staggering 49 per cent of people on Universal Credit or legacy benefits have skipped or cut down on the size of a meal, with the same being true for 48 per cent of private renters and 46 per cent of disabled people whose condition limits them a lot. Families are struggling too - between April and July, 47 per cent of parents of children under 18 borrowed money.

Reacting to the latest data the Bevan Foundation’s Director, Dr Victoria Winckler said: “These latest results show just why it’s so important that all levels of government step up over the coming months to support people with the cost of living.

"The crisis is as severe as last winter, and the hardest-hit households need help if they are to be able to eat and keep warm in the coming months.”.