4 March, 2024

The impact of the cost of living crisis on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents

The Racial Equality Group recently held an online event to discuss the disproportionate impact the cost of living crisis has on social housing residents, especially those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, who are more likely to be on low income.

We were joined by three speakers

Steven Burns

The Peabody index has been in place since 2018, with the latest edition published in 2023 and essentially it tracks the financial circumstances of Peabody residents and it compares them with wider London residents and the wider population as a whole. Surveys are conducted with over 1,000 residents of working age, 18-65 years old, and the latest survey was conducted with 4,500+ residents and had a focus on minority ethnic groups. Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly, the data collected showed the situation is dire:

Steven highlighted that when he talks about these stark statistic, it isn’t a case of playing one group off another, but rather of having the data to know where to target programs effectively and to be able to check if programs are meeting the needs of the communities where the need is greatest. He also highlighted how Peabody invest just under £2 million into advice and wellbeing, including financial inclusion, and how they operate on an open door policy, either referring them internally or externally as needed. He emphasised the importance of how as social housing colleagues, there’s a real need and benefit of working in partnership and combining efforts, energy and resources to get the best outcomes.

Max Williams

The Runnymede Trust British race equality and civil rights think tank, Max walked us through the recent research that, that Runnymede has done on the cost of living crisis and how that impacts minor ethnic groups and reflected on what that means for social housing residents and some of the things they think can be done as a society to improve outcomes. Max highlighted how although the media spotlight on the cost of living crisis has dimmed, the data showed Black and Minority Ethnic people were:

Max also covered how Falling faster research highlighted how Black andMinority Ethnic people are 2 and a half times more likely than white people to be in relative poverty, leaving them at particular risk during the cost of living crisis, how over the last decade financial hardship below the poverty line has considerably increased, and how this is also related to the widening of the income gap between the poorest people in our society with minority ethnic people been overrepresented among the lowest income routes. He also underlined how Black and Minority Ethnic groups are still feeling the employment consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns and cutbacks, as well as the changes to social security systems. In terms of social housing, Black people in England and Wales are 3 times more likely to do so than their white counterparts, and analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that relative poverty rates are even higher among social renters at 46% compared to just 12% of owner occupiers.

The Runnymede trust are calling for the government to scrap the benefit cap and 2 child limit on Universal Credit and to scrap punitive sanctions to social security payments and to strengthen and expand social security measures for instance by ensuring that benefit rates keep up with rising living costs in real time.

Ayesha Begum

Fair4AllFinance exists to address and increase access to fare and affordable financial products to help people’s financial resilience, Ayesha shared a recent piece of research she lead that was published last year covering people’s experiences of financial services, especially from an ethnicity angle and honing in on how the financial services sector is making a difference. The research began by conducting a survey with over 2,000 people, using interlocking quotas on demographics around age, gender, social grade, working status, and supplementing that with qualitative focus groups.

Ayesha highlighted findings of relevance to a social housing audience:

Ayesha also covered how at customer service level, but also throughout an organisation, there needs to be a drive to try and improve that unconscious bias which is comes in. She also highlighted how Black and Minority Ethnic communities are turning to each other to save and borrow via community based money lending groups as they are more accessible and inclusive with a higher level of trust. She urge attendees to look more into, how they design their services, how they interact with communities to better understand their needs and also thinking about how do they engage with the wider community whether it’s community groups or figures and to elevate these to support building that trust, lower levels discrimination and ultimately build people’s financial resilience in the long term.



The QA covered a range of topics, from what is the core problem causing the disparities mentioned in this event round up, speakers pointed to systemic issues of structural barriers of poverty and racism, and highlighted how as well as having the information and resources to help immediate needs, it is collaboration and place based focus which is required to take the data available to make informed decisions that are built on understanding individual and local needs and meeting them appropriately to make true and lasting change.

Recording and resources

You can watch the recording of the event and join the Racial Equality Group here

You can also download Max Williams presentation slides here

Want to join the Racial Equality Group?

If you’re interested in joining the Racial Equality Group or have a question about it,

get in touch with our Head of Communities and Projects, Rebecca Rieley

Get in touch