The RCP found that more than half of people (55%) surveyed in a YouGov poll feel their health has been negatively affected by the rising cost of living. In addition:
- 64% of parents/guardians caring for at least one child under the age of 18 said the cost of living crisis was having a fairly negative or very negative impact on their health.
- Of those parents and guardians of a child aged 18 years and under that said the cost of living crisis was having a negative impact on their health:
- 86% said it was due to increased Heating costs
- 79% said the rising cost of Food and 78% said Other bills.
- 12% said the rising costs of Treatment, care or adaptations to support a long-term health condition.
- 19% of parents/guardians with a child aged 18 years and under and negatively impacted by the cost of living crisis had been told by a doctor or health professional in the last year that stress caused by rising living costs had worsened their health.
- 15% of parents/guardians of a child aged 18 years and under and negatively impacted by the cost of living crisis had been told by a doctor or health professional in the last year that the amount of money they had to spend on energy for heating and cooking had worsened their health.
In response, RCPCH Officer for health improvement Dr Max Davie said:
“The RCP polling outlines in cruel clarity, how many families are impacted by the rising cost of living, with 64% of parents or guardians caring for at least one child saying the cost of living is having a negative impact on their health.
“We know health outcomes are widening between children living in more deprived areas compared to their peers living in less deprived areas, and across the country poverty is increasing. Evidence from 2020 showed child poverty was at its highest rate for 25 years – the pandemic and ensuring cost of living crisis will in no way be helping.
“As paediatricians we can see the devastating impact of poverty on children and young people, and study after study shows the damaging lifelong effects to the individual and the country. We need to see action from Government now, to support these families in need.
“The Government’s white paper on Health Disparities which is due later this year must include an explicit focus, with national targets, on reducing child poverty and child health inequalities and the white paper must be published without delay.”
RCPCH is calling for the Government to take action to support children and families, including in the anticipated Government white paper on disparities. Child health must be at the heart of all Government policies and across all departments.
RCPCH is a member of the Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA), a group convened by the RCP with over 200 organisations. The IHA is calling for a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities. The strategy should address areas such as poor housing, food quality, communities and place, employment, racism and discrimination, transport and air pollution because everything affects health.