Hard-pressed parents 'skipping meals to make sure families are fed'

Consumer watchdog Which? shines a light on extent of cost-of-living crisis in Scotland.

Cost-of-living crisis: Which? finds that parents in Scotland are skipping meals to feed families

One in five parents in Scotland are feeding family members before themselves due to the cost-of-living crisis, a new study has suggested.

Research for Which? found that 22% of parents in the Scottish survey were prioritising feeding relatives, compared with 8% of the population overall.

Around one in ten respondents (11%) said they were skipping meals due to rising food costs.

The survey carried out by Yonder questioned more than 1,000 consumers in Scotland to understand the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

One 55-year-old woman told researchers: “We are having to skip meals, not have the heating on and not going out due to fuel costs.”

The new information also found that nearly eight in ten consumers have been putting the heating on less due to the increase in energy prices.

Almost nine in ten consumers said they were worried about energy prices (89%), while concern around food and housing costs have increased sharply compared with the previous year.

The proportion of people worried about food prices increased by ten percentage points to almost nine in ten (87%) in December 2022, compared 77% in 2021 and 63% in 2020.

Which? has estimated that if consumers tried to maintain the same spending habits they would need to spend an additional £40 per week – or around £2,080 a year – on food, energy and fuel in December 2022 compared with December 2021.

That would mean almost a third of their household expenditure would be spent on just these essential goods.

One in ten say they are skipping meals due to rising food bills.

As a result of this, many households have had to make changes to cover essential spending, with many people cutting back on essentials, which increased to 39% from 25% in 2021.

The financial pressures being faced by people are now causing emotional harm, the study found, with some respondents being made anxious and suffering sleepless nights.

A 34-year-old woman who took part in the study said: “I’m severely depressed and worried all the time about being able to pay my bills and have enough money to feed and clothe my kids as well as electricity and gas to heat my home. It’s having a massive effect on my mental health, I feel anxious and stressed out all the time.”

Nearly half of consumers in Scotland said that concerns around the cost of living has left them feeling anxious, with 22% saying they struggle to sleep as a result.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “It’s hugely concerning that people in Scotland are losing sleep, skipping meals and sitting in the cold due to rising prices.

“As the cost of living crisis puts huge pressure on household finances, we are calling on businesses in essential sectors like food, energy and broadband providers to do more to help customers get a good deal and avoid unnecessary or unfair costs and charges during this crisis.”

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