Results from 2023’s Quality of Life survey highlights the impact the national cost of living crisis is having on Bristol residents. Unfortunately, there are increases in residents worries about everyday life, costs and functions. Almost half of participants are extremely or moderately worried about keeping their home warm this winter.
Across Bristol there are many people having to choose between putting food on the table and heating their homes, a choice that no one should have to make in 2023. Our city’s advice services are incredibly busy with people asking for help and advice on managing money and debt, and there are so many people concerned with how they will pay their rent or energy bills next month.
With the national cost of living crisis having a staggering impact on so many people across our city, it is unsurprising that themes associated with it have come through strongest in our annual Quality of Life survey. Now in its 23rd year, the Quality of Life survey is an extensive annual residents’ survey for Bristol.
This year’s survey saw a total of around 4,000 responses. Overall, 62% of people reported being satisfied with life: a significant drop from before the pandemic, when satisfaction rates were 75%. In particular, food insecurity is notably worse than last year and pre-pandemic. 8% of respondents told us they are now experiencing moderate or worse food insecurity, but this is doubling to 16% in the most deprived areas.
Everyone has seen a huge increase in their energy bills, and this does not seem to be stopping. Analysis from Investec forecasts the energy price cap for households will fall to £2,478 in the summer, which may ease some of the pressure on citizens struggling to cope, but is still far too high for most. A new question added to the survey this year asked if people were “worried about keeping their home warm this winter”, answers show almost half (48%) are extremely or moderately worried, rising to 62% of people in deprived areas. Over the winter months this concern has been addressed with a network of Welcoming Spaces, where people can keep warm, socialise with others, and access support. People’s satisfaction with the cost of rent or their mortgage (49%) also fell significantly, a 10% drop compared to 2019.
I know that these past few months have been incredibly tough for so many. Remember, you are not alone. If you are struggling to put food on the table or to pay your energy bills, please reach out. If you just need some basic advice around money management and budgeting, please reach out. You do not need to be in crisis before asking for support, it’s better to ask the questions and get advice before you get to that point.
Aside from the cost of living, a new question asking if people “feel unsafe from sexual harassment using public transport in Bristol” shows 8% of respondents overall feel unsafe; 12% of women feel unsafe but this doubles to 25% of young women aged 16-24 feeling unsafe. This is essential data for us as we continue work on vital initiatives, such as the city’s Women’s Safety Charter, to help tackle gender inequality, women’s safety and to make Bristol a fair and inclusive city.
On a positive note, citizens’ satisfaction with Bristol’s household waste (74%) and recycling services (73%) both rose significantly last year and are above pre-pandemic levels. Those who think “air quality and traffic pollution is a problem locally” has fallen significantly to 70%, much improved on pre-pandemic levels, and has also seen improvement in the most deprived areas (63%). However, the satisfaction with the local bus services continues to fall significantly (38% from 49%) and this fell even further in the most deprived areas (34% from 49%).
You can read the full Quality of Life survey headline report on the Bristol City Council website. The full range of 2022/23 indicators will be published in March via the Data Dashboard on www.bristol.gov.uk/qualityoflife, with a final report to follow. The 2022 survey consisted of 75 questions that will produce around 190 indicators, on topics such as health, lifestyles, community, local services and living in Bristol.
If you need support or advice with the cost of living please reach out, there are organisations that can help you. Visit the Bristol City Council cost of living webpage or call the We Are Bristol helpline for free on 0800 694 0184 between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
There are also things you can do for yourself as well to help you manage your money or debt. Citizens Advice has a budgeting tool to help you understand what you’re earning and spending and where you might be able to cut costs. They also have a debt remedy tool. You can find out if you’re eligible for Pension Credit and how much you could get on the government website. Bristol City Council’s benefits calculator will help you find out what benefits you can claim. Citizens Advice Bristol are also running drop-in sessions at some of the city’s Welcoming Spaces to provide people with practical guidance around benefits, money, debt and energy.