Written by: Joe Stafford

Cost of living crisis disproportionately impacting older ethnic minority people

Policymakers, researchers, and community organisations are urged to consider culturally appropriate service models to tackle deeper inequalities

A new report from researchers at The University of Manchester, the Manchester BME Network and the Centre for Ageing Better says that the cost of living crisis is having a disproportionate impact on older African and Caribbean, South Asian and other ethnic minorities.

The report recognises that older people in the UK are experiencing a combination of pressures arising from the cost of living crisis, the impact of COVID-19, and cuts affecting health and social care.

It focuses on the impact of the crisis on older people in Greater Manchester, combining national data with interviews with older people as well as representatives of the organisations working on their behalf. It reveals how existing inequalities place minority ethnic groups at heightened risk from the effects of high inflation and associated pressures.

"The reality is that more than two million pensioners in the UK live below the poverty line, with many more living just above it,” said Dr Camilla Lewis from The University of Manchester. “Despite comprising only around 15% of the population in the UK, more than a quarter of those in ‘deep poverty’ - those more than 50% below the poverty line - are from a minority ethnic background and make up a growing share of those on the lowest incomes."

Detailing the damaging consequences of food insecurity and rising fuel costs reported by older people and community organisations, the report highlights the changes affecting older people, including deterioration in mental and physical health, pressures on family life, housing, and everyday spending. It also reveals how some services have struggled to maintain adequate levels of support, as a reflection of funding cuts and a decline in the number of volunteers.

The report highlights some distinctive characteristics that place older people from ethnic minority backgrounds at greater risk of economic hardship and social exclusion including: the long-term impact of the pandemic, housing insecurity, the rising price of imported food, racism and discrimination, and language barriers resulting in limited access to services.

Given that the population is set to become more ethnically diverse in the years ahead, our research puts forward a number of recommendations for national, regional and local government.

Dr Camilla Lewis

Considering the challenges which lie ahead, the report makes a series of recommendations for policy makers, researchers and community organisations to consider:

1.     Develop greater awareness around the ways that the cost-of-living crisis is affecting older people from ethnic minority communities.
2.     Prioritise culturally appropriate community food provisions (such as food banks and lunch clubs).
3.     Support older people from ethnic minority backgrounds with cultural sensitivity.
4.     Focus on reinvesting in public services and address structural inequality

For more information, please visit the project website at https://www.micra.manchester.ac.uk/muarg/research/current-projects/the-impact-of-the-cost-of-living-crisis/ 

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