People believe the worst is yet to come
A new survey has found that 87% of people in Scotland expect the soaring cost of living to cause a recession, and more than nine in 10 expect things to get worse before they get better.
The survey produced in partnership between the David Hume Institute and the Diffley Partnership shows that despite households’ best efforts to cut their outgoings, the support on offer from governments is widely seen as inadequate.
The findings come as a vital new resource was launched this week to help Scotland’s charities navigate the crisis.
As individuals feel increasing pressure on the cost-of-living, it is feared rocketing energy prices and inflation will have a serious impact on how charities operate – and therefore the vital support they give to those hardest hit by the crisis.
As such the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has launched an online hub with advice on how to deal with the escalating cost of running an organisation, using the #RunningCostsCrisis hashtag.
Eighty per cent of people have cut down on leisure and/or non-essentials, and over a quarter of people are skipping or cutting down on meals to save money.
Despite these efforts to economise, including by foregoing basic necessities, 89% and 73%, respectively, say that the UK and Scottish governments have done too little to help.
The Hume research shows there is particular hostility towards energy companies: 95% of people think they have done too little to help people cope with rising prices, and a fifth of people think that the single biggest cause of soaring inflation is companies maximising their profits.
This is only just behind the war in Ukraine at 21%, and ahead of pandemic-related supply chain issues at 12%.
Rising prices, in the absence of further support, have seen large numbers of people pushed into greater vulnerability and riskier behaviours.
Susan Murray, director of the David Hume Institute, said: “Since we started this survey, sadly most people have seen their financial situation deteriorate.
With three in ten people now losing sleep due to financial stress, and over a quarter skipping or cutting meals, there are obvious consequences for the economy, labour market and people’s health.
“Despite their best efforts, two-thirds of people say their money simply isn’t going far enough, and most expect things to get considerably worse before they get better.
“We need a concerted package of targeted support, and we need it now.”
Two in five have depleted their savings, and over a third (35%) have taken on debt and/or borrowed money. The latter figure rises to 44% in the most deprived fifth of neighbourhoods, 20 percentage points higher than in the most affluent.
The impacts of soaring prices are thus not being felt equally across society. Rather, they are hitting the already vulnerable hardest, with 73% of people in the most deprived fifth of neighbourhoods reporting that they feel worse off now than over the past year, compared to 60% in the most affluent areas.
Mark Diffley, founder and director of Diffley Partnership who conducted the research, said: “It is unusual to see the public mood being so unambiguously bleak. Financial pressures and anxiety at soaring prices are widespread across society, but particularly acute for those who are already most vulnerable.
“Across all demographic groups, and especially in more deprived communities, a clear majority are saying that the response to date from the UK and Scottish governments alike are simply not enough.”
This polling gathered insights from more than 2,000 members of the Scottish adult population.