Gwen Hines, the chief executive of Save the Children, told the Guardian that severe financial hardship would really begin to bite in January, with many families already unable to afford basic goods.
Hines said: “Many families in the UK are living in dire circumstances right now and we know Christmas and the new year is going to be particularly difficult. We are concerned January will be the time financial hardship really begins to bite.”
31% of households in the bottom fifth of earners said they were significantly reducing the amount they spend on presents, festive food and other seasonal treats. That compared with 16% among the highest fifth of earners. 64% of all workers surveyed said they would be trying to rein in the cost of Christmas this year, amid widespread predictions that the economy is sliding into recession.
Emily Fry, an economist at the Resolution Foundation thinktank, told the Guardian: “Low-income families have faced the toughest cost-of-living pressures this year from soaring food prices to energy bills, and it is taking its toll this Christmas..." She added that family finances had already been stretched thin by the Covid pandemic, leaving poorer families little room for manoeuvre. “People who already entered the pandemic with lower savings, less of a buffer to be able to deal with unexpected shocks, are now facing a second crisis.”
Citizens Advice recently reported that they had referred the equivalent of 3.5 people every minute to a food bank in the first week of December – more than in any other week on record.