Cost of living crisis: a public health emergency
Easier and faster access to mental health and well-being support, and help on energy, housing and food costs is urgently needed to protect health and save lives, according to Public Health Wales.
The new report about the cost of living crisis details how not being able to afford the essentials, such as food, rent or mortgage payments, heating and hot water, or transport, has significant and wide-ranging negative impacts on mental and physical health.
Over the last year, there has been a 69 per cent rise in the number of people experiencing food insecurity in Wales, and a 50 per cent rise in the number of people falling behind paying a bill.
One of the report’s recommendations is around income maximisation schemes. For example, a recent pilot in Cwm Taf Morgannwg area saw over 1,200 young people receive advice to maximise their income and feel more confident about dealing with money.
57 per cent reported they were less stressed or worried about their financial problems, and 70 per cent felt more confident in dealing with money worries. More than a quarter reported they learnt to better manage their day-to-day finances.
Sumina Azam, Consultant in Public Health at Public Health Wales, yesterday said:
“The cost of living crisis is more than a temporary economic squeeze. It is an urgent public health issue that will have negative impacts on the health and well-being of the Welsh population both now and into the future.
“A system-wide public health response is urgently needed, both to mitigate the immediate effects of the cost of living crisis and to tackle the underlying causes of health inequalities caused by poverty to create a healthier and more equal Wales in the long-term. All public bodies, the third sector and other organisations need to work closely together to support and protect the health of the Welsh public.
“This report provides a framework for this response.”
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