Pressure on pay, prices and properties

How families were faring in October 2023

Two years into the cost of living crisis, inflation has finally turned a corner. The headline rate of CPI inflation has fallen from its October 2022 peak of 11.1 per cent to 4.6 per cent in October 2023, and the Prime Minister has been able to say that his target of halving inflation in 2023 was met. But politicians and central bankers saying that this means the problem is over risk sounding out of touch with the public experience.

In this report, we draw on a new YouGov survey of over 8,000 adults aged 18 and above that was in the field in October 2023 – following on from similar surveys in March 2023 and November 2022, and supported by the Health Foundation – to take stock of people’s experience of the ongoing cost of living crisis. We find that, although there have been slight improvements in some outcomes over the past year, most indicators of how families are faring remain at levels that are far more concerning than was the case two or more years ago.

Focusing on people’s experiences of pay and price rises, we also find that it is important to examine the variation in people’s experiences to fully understand the pressure that people are under. Although average earnings are growing quickly right now, people who have not received a pay rise at all will be far less able to cope with rising prices than the average worker. Similarly, someone who has renewed their mortgage in recent months and seen their repayments double, or who has had to sign a new tenancy agreement, will have faced a bigger increase in their outgoings than those who own their home outright, or whose mortgage or rent is fixed. It is people with higher housing costs than a year ago but no increase in pay who look most vulnerable as the cost of living crisis continues.