Our stories Magic Blog The Cost of Living Crisis By Peter Whitehead, Magic Breakfast Policy Officer. Across the UK, inflation has hit a 30 year high, and is projected to rise to 7%. Aside from the alarming numbers, the drivers of this inflation are also of profound concern. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that the largest driver of the Consumer Price Index and Housing (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was food.[i] In fact, food has not been such a large contributor to inflation since July 2008 – the quarter in which the UK economy went into recession.[ii] This is compounded by an increase in the interest rate to 0.5%.[iii] With energy prices forecast to rise by over £600 per household, as many as 1 in 5 families may be forced to choose between heating their home and eating.[iv] The cost of the basics that families need to be secure, stable, and healthy – heat, food, shelter – are being driven up. In short, the UK faces the greatest fall in standards of living since comparable records began. The Impact of the Crisis The effect of these price rises has, as is too often the case, been felt by those at the ‘sharp end’ of the economy. The managing director of Iceland, Richard Walker, stated on ITV recently that his stores were losing customers – but not to rival supermarkets. Instead, they were being driven “to food banks, and to hunger”.[v] Regrettably, many are simply being priced out of buying food altogether. Our teachers have seen the real terms impact of this – Benjamin Bowles, Head of School at Langley Primary, told us ‘…there has been a steady, further rise in families approaching us to support them throughout the past two years, and this has to be related to an increase in their utility bills and fuel.’ The average annual spending on food is set to rise by £180.[vi] The author and campaigner Jack Monroe has recently written about the impact of inflation on food at the lower end of the price scales. They point out that many customers are feeling the pinch due to price hikes of up to 141% in low-cost ranges of food. How you can help You can join Magic Breakfast in supporting pupils facing hunger in the classroom by making a donation right now. Just £14 would pay for a breakfast for 50 children at a Magic Breakfast school. At Magic Breakfast, we work with schools up and down the UK, offering breakfast to over 200,000 school children every school day.[vii] Bob Speight, Headmaster at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy, told us about the issues families in his community will face, saying that "There is no doubt that families are under even more pressure financially than ever as the impact of cost of living increases kicks in. Undoubtedly this makes partnerships like that between BACA and Magic Breakfast even more important, to mitigate the impact of disadvantage on students' wellbeing and outcomes." At such a time, it’s more important than ever to see investment into breakfast. Breakfast investment represents excellent value for money. Every £1 spent on a child’s breakfast now brings back £50 in to the public purse later – and one year of free breakfasts generates over £9000 in returns, through reduced costs to the state and higher tax receipts due to an increase in earning potential.[viii] Magic Breakfast – thanks to our donors and corporate partners – spent £3,469,489.20 (72.2% of our £4,818,735 expenditure) on food and support in 2019/20.[ix] We’ll be standing with the schools and young people we work with until children experiencing morning hunger is a thing of the past. Will you help ensure a child at risk of hunger doesn’t miss out on crucial learning, by making a gift today? Every breakfast you give makes a difference to a struggling family. Why the Government needs to act Your donations can help tackle classroom hunger now – and you can also join us in campaigning for change. At a time where the Government is committed to levelling up in education and social policy, it’s crucial to remember that children simply cannot reach their full potential on an empty stomach. Any attempt to address the current ‘postcode lottery’ of outcomes needs to start by increasing Government funding to enable thousands more schools with no support to run breakfast clubs for disadvantaged pupils. Join us in making sure all children have the fuel to learn. [i] Consumer price inflation, UK - Office for National Statistics [ii] Ibid. [iii] Bank Rate increased to 0.5% - February 2022 | Bank of England [iv] Why are gas bills so high and what's the energy price cap? - BBC News [v] “We’re losing customers to food banks,” Iceland boss warns - Grocery Gazette - Latest Grocery Industry News [vi] Pre-pandemic shopping routines return to UK... but price rises spell battle for consumer spend (kantar.com) [vii] Magic Breakfast/What the charity does [viii] Download.ashx (magicbreakfast.com) [ix] Annual Report 2019/2020, Magic Breakfast. An updated figure reflecting current expenditure and inflation will be released shortly in our latest annual report.