One in five households in York are at risk of “struggling to afford the necessities of life” as the cost of living crisis continues to bite this winter, figures suggest.
A summit organised by the council to tackle the issue heard on Monday that 16,500 households in the city – 34,000 adults and 6,500 children – are likely to be the worst hit over the coming months.
A council economy and strategic planning meeting on Tuesday also heard how spiralling inflation was affecting the city’s residents and businesses.
Over spring of this year, the energy spend per unique user in York rose to £151.58 per month, which is £43.27 more than a year earlier. The average petrol spend per user was £116 per month – £24 more than a year earlier.
However, data from the Centre for Cities thinktank also suggests that York’s local inflation rate is 9.8 per cent – slightly lower than the national average and the lowest in northern England with the exception of Warrington. Cities in the south of the country are facing lower local inflation rates.
The spike in mortgage rates following ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss’s failed mini-budget saw the average two-year fixed mortgage rose to 6.46 per cent, the highest since 2008.
In York, the 21,000 households on fixed-deals and 5,000 households on variable deals are likely to face higher interest rates when they re-mortgage.
Simon Brereton, the council’s head of economic growth, said: “We’ve picked up that probably at risk are something like one in five households in York who will be suffering and finding the cost of living increases very difficult as we go through the winter.”
‘Very worrying times’
Labour deputy leader Cllr Pete Kilbane called for the council to target its help more closely at the city’s poorest areas, such as Clifton, Tang Hall and Westfield.
Mr Brereton said these were also “very worrying times” for businesses, which are struggling with increased borrowing costs, the recruitment market and rising wages, as well as higher transport costs.
One company with multiple sites in York is seeing remote recruitment wage demands come closer to London wage rates, while another has increased all staff wages by 21 per cent to retain staff and ease recruitment pressures.
Mr Brereton added: “A lot of businesses have used what reserves they have and are now using debt to keep them going through as they recover from Covid and we’re worried about what the impact might be.”
The council is supporting businesses with events such as York Business Festival, which runs throughout this month.
Cllr Ashley Mason, executive member for economy and strategic planning, said: “I’m really pleased to see such a diverse programme – for every different sector there’s something there.”