I’m writing this at a time where the most vulnerable in society are being impacted by a national emergency, the cost of living crisis.
Recently the Office for National Statistics announced another record breaking increase to the rate of inflation. This is obviously going to have an impact on many people across the country in the coming months and SSJ also needs to consider the impact on us as an organisation.
Costs are rising across a whole range of items, including food and household items, gas and electricity, fuel and travel as well as costs linked to maintaining our houses. Many of our costs are the same as those incurred by any ordinary household. We run a number of housing projects in order to accommodate as many people as possible, and the cost of running these services is steadily increasing.
We are also dependent on having wonderful staff who work hard to provide support and care to those we are seeking to assist. Our staff are faced with same increases to their costs of living and may need to be paid more as a result. We are also conscious that with the general shortage of staff in many sectors, we need to be able to offer increased salaries, otherwise we will not be able to fill our vacant posts.
We are also concerned about the impact of this on our service users and clients. Many are dependent on welfare benefits, which are also not keeping up with inflation. The challenges of trying to live on Universal Credit have been well publicised and can become an additional burden for those who are trying to resettle into the community after having been homeless.
For example, we are pleased to be able to offer some people the chance to move from shared accommodation into their own flat. However, this process will often trigger a new benefit claim, which takes a number of weeks to be processed. Therefore, people who are moving into a flat often immediately struggle to put money in their fuel meters and to buy their initial food.
We are able to use some of the donations we have received to provide a food parcel and help with the gas and electricity. However, once someone has moved in and their benefits have been received they still need to budget incredibly carefully to manage within their weekly budget. We anticipate this will become more and more of an issue in the coming months.