Most people in Wales are now having to cut back on essentials, a Welsh think-tank has warned, as the cost of living crisis continues to escalate.

In its latest Snapshot of Poverty report, the Merthyr Tydfil-based Bevan Foundation noted that an increasing proportion of Welsh households are cutting back on food, electricity and water in response to rising costs.

The finding represents a "significant deterioration" since last year, the authors said, with single-parent families, renters, benefit-recipients and disabled people bearing the brunt.

It comes as inflation - a measure of living costs - has reached a new 40-year high of 9.4 percent, driven in part by a steep rise in food prices and energy bills.

At the same time, few workers are seeing pay increases to keep up with these costs - and benefit payments have been cut.

The thinktank is urging the UK and Welsh Governments, along with local authorities, to take action to "boost incomes and reduce living costs".

It is also calling on private firms to boost worker pay and minimise price rises.

“Surging costs and sluggish income growth means that families all over Wales are feeling the pinch," said Dr Steffan Evans, an author on the Snapshot of Poverty report.

"The latest data points to a significant deterioration from the position in November 2021 when the Bevan Foundation undertook its last Snapshot survey, and with costs continuing to rise, there is every reason to fear that things could deteriorate further.”


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Think-tank director Dr Victoria Winckler called the report "a sobering reminder of the very real human impact of the cost-of-living crisis on families in Wales."

She added: "With families now cutting back on food for children, this crisis will be felt for years to come.

"It is vital that we take action now to protect people ahead of what is set to be an incredibly difficult winter.”

The research - conducted through YouGov surveys of the Welsh public, as well as field interviews - found that well over half of households in Wales are already cutting back on electricity, heating and/or water.

Fifty-one percent of households are cutting back on clothing for adults, just under half are cutting back on transport, and 39 percent have cut their spend on food for adults.

The authors warn than the number of families having to cut back on buying food for their children has almost doubled since their last report in November last year.

Households with incomes below £20,000, social and private renters, single-parent families and disabled people were all more likely to be struggling, they noted.

More than a third of people on Universal Credit in Wales, meanwhile, told researchers that they sometimes or often struggled to afford everyday items.

As a result of their financial situation, people reported that their mental and physical health had been deteriorating.

"It is therefore imperative that UK, Welsh and local governments take measures to both boost incomes and reduce living costs," the report concludes, adding that steps should be taken to ensure that people are fully aware of the support they're entitled to and precisely how it can be accessed.

"It is not just government that should be taking action to support people through the cost-of-living crisis," it goes on.

"There is a role for private business to do more.

"From ensuring that all staff are adequately paid, to minimising price hikes, to supporting charities - there are a range of actions that private businesses can take to support both their staff and customers through the coming months.

"If we are to protect everyone then it is imperative that everyone plays their part."

This week the Centre for Mental Health called rising poverty and inequality in the UK a "public health emergency", and warned that if appropriate action - including increasing benefits, ending the benefits cap and increasing the national minimum wage - was not prioritised as a "necessity", the health and social care services would become overwhelmed.

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