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Brits are more concerned about the cost of living crisis than Covid

The British population is now more worried about their finances than to catch Covid, according to a major university study that suggests rising inflation is becoming the public’s top concern.

In March, 38 per cent of UK adults said they were worried about their finances, the highest proportion since University College London’s Covid Social Survey launched in March 2020.

In contrast, the proportion of concerns about contracting or contracting the coronavirus fell to 33 percent from 40 percent in January.

All age groups reported an increase worried about their finances, but the number reached almost half of those aged 30 to 59, twice that of older people. Of this middle-aged group, only about a third were concerned about Covid.

Prof Daisy Fancourt, the lead author, said the results “have seen a cost of living crisis emerge”.

Fancourt said the results showed how the government’s new relaxed coronavirus guidelines had affected the way people viewed the disease. “This is despite the fact that the number of Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths remains the same or higher than in January 2022, meaning that the overall situation remains unchanged despite the change in attitude,” she said.

In England, the legal restrictions surrounding Covid ended on February 24th, followed shortly afterwards by similar easing in other countries.

Household finances became the top concern for Britons before the energy bill cap set by the sector regulator rose 54 percent in April. Even before that, consumer inflation rose to a 30-year high of 6.2 percent in February and consensus is set for a further increase in the March figure to be released on Wednesday.

Inflation could accelerate further in the second half of the year, on the back of higher gas and oil prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As a result, only around half of the population felt in control of their finances in March, compared with almost two-thirds last October, the UCL study found.

The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, UKRI and Wellcome, is based on a survey of 29,000 people interviewed between March 21 and 27. Much smaller studies, published every two weeks by the Office for National Statistics, showed an increase in the proportion of the population reducing their proportion of non-essential expenses and energy use to cope with the rising cost of living.

The UCL report also found that the cost of living crisis was generating new mental health problems, with happiness and life satisfaction falling monthly since last summer. At the same time, depression and anxiety symptoms were at their highest in almost a year and at levels when the first lockdown was eased in 2020.

Cheryl Lloyd, director of education programs at the Nuffield Foundation, said the results showed “that the rising cost of living is having a negative impact on people’s mental health, particularly those living on low incomes”.

And this despite the fact that people are going out more and more. Nearly two in three people left the home for entertainment in the past month, an all-time high for the study. In fact, most people followed the new relaxed guidelines, the study found, but confidence in the government to handle the pandemic well remained relatively low, similar to when the first lockdown was eased in 2020.

https://www.ft.com/content/eb3542e0-62bd-41f5-ac82-6b9bdebe3d62 Brits are more concerned about the cost of living crisis than Covid

Adam Bradshaw

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