Cost of living increases widespread, yet crisis shows regional disparity

Here are our insights into how the cost of living crisis is impacting people across the UK and Great Britain. The data comes from our latest survey with 38 Degrees and MRP modelling with Professor Chris Hanretty over at Royal Holloway, University of London.


Almost everyone is feeling the effects of inflation. Four in five people in the UK (79%) are paying more for their groceries. Over half are experiencing increased transport costs (55%) and three in four (74%) are paying more for their energy bills across the UK.



While increased energy bills are ubiquitous across the UK, people in the north of England and Wales are being impacted the hardest. Over four in five people in the North East (83%), North West (82%) and Wales (83%) are paying more for their energy bills. 



Our MRP shows Conservative support has fallen in these areas since the 2019 General Election, while support for Labour has increased.


While Great Britain is feeling the squeeze of increased costs, residents in the most deprived areas have been hit with an additional blow. The Universal Credit cut and furlough scheme ending have impacted these areas most acutely. 


For example, in one of the most deprived areas of the UK, Blackpool South, almost a third of residents (31%) have lost income due to Universal Credit being cut, compared to 1 in 5 (21%) in one of the most affluent, Oxford West and Abingdon. Similarly, in Blackpool South 29% of residents have been affected by the furlough scheme ending compared to only 18% of residents in Oxford West and Abingdon.



We see similar impacts in some red wall constituencies. A third of residents have lost income due to the Universal Credit cut in Bury North (32%) and in Bishop Auckland (34%). A quarter of residents in Bury North (23%) and in Bishop Auckland (25%) have been impacted by the furlough scheme ending. 


Our MRP modelling shows the Conservatives losing their seats here. Labour have a 5-point lead in Bishop Auckland and a 10-point lead in Bury North. 



Increased fuel costs are hitting areas that rely on cars the hardest. These areas are more rural and have fewer transport links. For example, 4 in 5 people in Keighley (83%) and almost 1 in 9 in Brecon and Radnorshire (87%) are paying more for fuel. Meanwhile, well-connected urban constituencies in London are feeling the impacts less. In Islington South and Finsbury, less than half of the residents (44%) have experienced more expensive fuel.



Professor Chris Hanretty summed up the impacts of the crisis in the following statement:


 “The cost of living crisis is a real headache for the Conservative party, because it’s incredibly broad-based. We can think about a triple whammy. First, there are increases in fuel costs, which land more heavily with car-owners, who tend to be more affluent, and who are any way less likely to live in big cities, which lean Labour. Second, cuts in state support are more of a problem for working class voters who the Conservatives might want to appeal to on cultural issues. Third, the increases in energy costs are so big that they’re a problem for just about everyone. You can’t have a major increase in the cost of living for 80% of the population and not expect the governing party to pay some kind of price for that”. 


Survation conducted an online survey of 2,034 adults aged 18+ in the UK. Fieldwork was conducted between 4 and 7 March 2022. The MRP modelling for cost of living is based on this latest survey of 1,947 GB adults. The MRP modelling for voting intention is based on surveys of 8,002 UK adults including this study, conducted 11 November 2021 – 7 March 2022. MRP data tables are available here and here. Topical data tables are available here. To find out more about MRP: https://www.survation.com/what-is-mrp/


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BPC Statement: All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points.


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