What can businesses do to support their customers during the cost of living crisis?

Following the recent announcement from Ofgem that the energy price cap will be set at £1,923 for the next quarter, there have been calls for the Government to confirm their commitment to a “social tariff” for vulnerable households that will see little comfort from the cuts, as we head into what is predicted to be a cold winter. 

But we ask, what more can be done by businesses, organisations and charities to support vulnerable customers navigating the cost of living crisis, which, according to the Resolution Foundation’s annual Living Standards Outlook for 2023, should ease in 2024 but won’t fully be over until wages catch up which could be not until 2027.

What does the Ofgem price cap mean for consumers? 

Households in England, Wales and Scotland can expect to pay an average of £1,923 a year from October – January, a small decrease from the previous quarter that was set at £2,074.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, consumers have paid almost double for gas and electricity, and the new price cap reduction will seem like a drop in the ocean for many. This, coupled with the removal of the £400 support payments received by all households, could see even more people struggling in a cycle of fuel poverty. 

Isn’t the cost of living crisis getting better? 

Yes and no. 

According to the British Retail Consortium, food inflation fell from 13.4% to 11.5% in August, which is better news for consumers. However, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, supply could continue to be an issue, which will keep some prices high. 

Average weekly earnings have grown by 7.8, excluding bonuses. However, the Consumer Price Index was at 7.9 per cent, indicating that while total pay wages are rising, price increases are currently outpacing this growth. 

Whilst there are glimmers of change on the horizon, this winter looks set to be a challenging one for many. 

So, what can businesses do to support their customers during the cost of living crisis?

For businesses, charities and organisations, there are a number of ways that they can support their customers.

  1. Understand what it is that the customers need
  1. Set clear and affordable pricing 
  1. Understand affordability issues and communicate clearly on what can be done to resolve or support those issues
  1. Increase awareness of any social tariffs available
  1. Signpost to services and sites like www.askbill.org.uk  that could help with issues around debt, mental health, mortgages and managing finances.
  2. What support do they need – financial, bill paying wellbeing or practical? 

How does Auriga help businesses to support vulnerable customers during the cost of living crisis?

Auriga helps businesses, organisations and charities to design and deliver practical programmes, advice and assistance to those facing life’s challenges. Whether it’s providing welfare benefit and debt advice, administering household goods or ensuring people get the financial and wellbeing help that they need. 

Last year alone, the team delivered £13.2 million worth of Emergency Fuel Vouchers on behalf of organisations such as charities, local authorities and housing associations - a 192% increase on 2021-22. They also gave £495k of essential items, including beds and white goods, to individuals through working with local authorities and the water trust funds we manage.

Additionally, we have supported employed individuals with income maximisation solutions via Employee Assistance Programmes. These individuals never previously received direct support but now need help with the cost of living crisis affecting so many.

We can help your business to deliver the funding and support packages that best serve the people who need it. Contact Amy Smith in our Client Solutions team to discover more.