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Black and Asian families worst affected by cost of living crisis

Ethnic minorities in the UK struggling more to pay their bills, according to the ONS. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty
Ethnic minorities in the UK struggling more to pay their bills, according to the ONS. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty

People of Black and Asian origin are more likely to struggle with paying their bills compared to white adults as figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) lay bare how the surging cost of living affects ethnic and economic backgrounds differently.

According to the ONS 69% of Black or Black British adults, and 59% of Asian or Asian British origin were finding it difficult to afford their energy bills compared with 44% of white adults.

The numbers, which cover the period between June and September also revealed that around a quarter of white adults reported finding it difficult to afford their rent or mortgage payments, rising to 52% among Black or Black British adults.

Read more: Cost of living: How to save money on heating bills this winter

Over half (55%) of disabled adults reported struggling to afford energy bills and 36% found it difficult to afford their rent or mortgage payments, versus 40% and 27% of non-disabled people respectively.

"With rises in the cost of living at the forefront of many people’s minds, our new, almost real time, data showing just how prices are changing and shining a light on how different groups are affected have never been more important," national statistician, Sir Ian Diamond said.

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But the pressure could get worse as people struggle with the burden of their bills, Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said.

"Those on lower incomes are being crushed between rising energy bills and housing costs, including those on pre-payment meters, renters, people with disabilities, Black or Black British people and Asian or Asian British people," Coles said. "And the pressure is only going to get worse."

Meanwhile, the cost of low-priced everyday food items like vegetable oil, pasta and tea have jumped in price over the past year as value ranges soar as much as their premium equivalents.

Prices of the lowest-priced grocery items surged by nearly a fifth last month from the year before as households face rising costs. That was more than double the rate five months earlier.

The ONS used web-scraped supermarket data to show that 30 of the cheapest grocery products soared in cost by an annual rate of about 17% in September, up from 7% in April.

The figure, which is just above the 15% in the official measure of inflation for food and drinks, indicates that households could not avoid the impact of price rises as the cheapest food items rose just as much as the others.

Read more: UK consumer confidence near 50-year low as shoppers grapple with rising costs

The price of the least expensive pasta that under-pressure shoppers can get has shot up by 60% in the last year, according to the ONS, while the cheapest vegetable oil on supermarket shelves rose by 65%.

The cost of the cheapest tea has increased 46%, chips surged 39%, bread was up 38% and biscuits rose 34%.

"While the recent spike in inflation began with energy prices, today’s fresh insights using a new innovative data source show they are now filtering through to other important items, with the cheapest price of some staple food items rising by around two thirds in the last year," Diamond added.

Average increase in cost of lowest priced items. Chart: PA
Average increase in cost of lowest priced items. Chart: PA

Separate analysis found UK consumer confidence remained near 50-year lows, rising slightly in October as Britain contends with soaring food, energy and mortgage costs and political chaos.

GfK’s consumer confidence barometer was up two points but continues to languish at an overall score of -47, from the minus 49 the previous month. This month's reading was only marginally better than September, which marked the lowest level since records began in 1974 as the cost of living surged.

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