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Cost Of Living Leaves Some Choosing Between Eating Or Heating

A new survey of Channel Islanders highlights the number of people having to go without life's essentials.

Island Global Research carried out its online 'Living Survey' between May and June, with the results reflecting recent inflationary pressures and rising fuel costs.

One of the respondents to the survey in Guernsey said:

"We turned off our gas heating mid January but still have to pay the £40 a quarter standing charge."

Another in Jersey added:

"We are now existing, not living."

The online survey involved 1400 people in Jersey and 1200 in Guernsey, and the results are weighted to reflect the age range across the islands.

The key findings show that the rise in the cost of living is biting hard, and affecting people's pockets.

In Jersey, more than 50% found it difficult to meet living costs, while in Guernsey it was 49%. Around that same proportion in both islands have noticed a major increase in the cost of living.

40% of people surveyed in Jersey and 35% in Guernsey say they'd struggle to afford a £100 a month increase in living expenses.

The squeeze appears to be harder in Jersey, where 11% said they 'often have to go without essentials'.  In Guernsey* it is 6%.

Researchers say the most financially-challenged respondents were 'more like to be women under the age of 40 (*65), and around half have children in their household'.

Islanders in Jersey who added comments after completing the survey attacked the 5% Goods and Services Tax.:

"I think GST should be removed from food" 

"Scrap GST on Food and everyday essentials."

"Take GST off heating and fuel." 

Respondents in both islands said they were considering leaving their island because of the high cost of living.

"I am looking at moving to the UK as soon as I can, because I can no longer afford to live here."

The survey paints a picture of a society that's becoming more financially-divided, with more than half of respondents in Guernsey, and almost two thirds (63%) in Jersey, thinking that inequality will get worse in the future.

In terms of income in both islands, 6% of people in Guernsey reported earning more than £150,000 a year while in Jersey it's 5%. Around 45% earn more than £60,000 a year.

But the majority in both islands earn an average wage of between £20,000 to £39,000:

"Getting out of control for middle earners. Working hard, full time, getting taxed and not getting help. We are struggling more and more."

The key findings of the Island Global Research Cost of Living survey can be found here.

The team behind the survey says it was 'striking' that half of people categorised themselves as less than comfortable:

"Those less able to afford their costs appear to include a greater proportion of under 40s, families with children, and women. However, we plan to do further analysis to understand where there are statistically significant differences between different demographic groups, which we will release in due course.

Research recently conducted by YouGov in the UK* found that “Price increases that are seen as 'minor' by financially comfortable Britons are much more likely to be 'major' for those who are struggling to make ends meet” and that “Britons who are worse off are much more likely to say that their finances will continue to worsen.” We found similar trends in the Channel Islands, demonstrating the extent to which the most financially vulnerable in our societies are hardest hit by recent rises to cost of living.

In all three islands, respondents were often concerned by what they believe to be a widening of the gap between the richest and the poorest in our communities, with calls for more support to be made available to those who are financially vulnerable. There is concern about young people moving away, and indeed, one impact of rising costs reported by respondents is that they are looking to move away from our islands in order to afford a better standard of living. This appears to already be affecting some of those less able to afford their costs, while several ‘relatively comfortable’ respondents also indicated this is something they would be prepared to consider in the future."

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