British households buying less food or skipping meals as cost pressures bite
Half of people in the UK have reported buying less food when shopping in recent weeks, according to new figures which expose how cost pressures are hammering households.
The survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the rising cost of living has caused people to cut back on spending and left a significant proportion of households struggling to afford to eat.
Half of adults who took part in the survey over the two weeks to January 29 said they were buying less when food shopping, slightly more than the amount who said so in a previous survey.
It comes as grocery price inflation surged to 16.7% in January, adding a potential £788 to annual shopping bills for people who do not change their shopping behaviour, according to analysts Kantar.
It marked the highest inflation figure since their records began in 2008.
Price rises have taken a toll on British households. Around a tenth of adults reported that they often, or sometimes, run out of food and could not afford to buy more in the past month, the ONS found.
Some 13% said they had cut down meal size or skipped meals in the past month because there was not enough money for food. About a fifth of those adults said they had done so for more than a fortnight in the month.
The ONS survey, which had a sample of nearly 3,000 people in the latest wave, shed light on food insecurity in the UK – which refers to households unable to get enough food to live a healthy life.
More than a quarter said they often or sometimes could not afford to eat a balanced diet.
People have also been hit by rising electricity bills, despite a Government scheme which provided a £400 discount for all households in England, Scotland, and Wales.
Gas prices soared by 129% in the year to January, the ONS reported earlier this month.
As a result, around a fifth of adults who took part in the last two surveys reported they were occasionally, hardly ever, or never able to keep comfortably warm in the previous two weeks.
The pressures have had a knock-on effect on people’s health and wellbeing, with about a third of adults agreeing that cost-of-living increases had negatively impacted their mental health.
Earlier this month, a group of charities found almost a quarter of households regularly run out of money for essentials and that more than two-thirds do not believe the Government is doing enough to help.
The Together Through The Crisis initiative called on the Prime Minister and Chancellor to take action to make sure the crisis does not become the UK’s “new normal”.