Friday, May 17, 2024

UK Inflation Increases: Industry Experts Comment

Government, retailers and energy providers must offer more support

Mohsin Rashid, Co-Founder of ZIPZERO, said: “These figures provide little shock, but they certainly underline how brutal the economic landscape is. What’s more, inflation will continue to get worse in the months to come. The issue is the lack of action being taken by those most able to address the cost-of-living crisis.

“According to our independent research, 84% of UK adults think energy providers should be doing more to help people through the cost-of-living crisis, with 81% saying the same of the Government and 70% wanting retailers to offer more support. The problem rumbles on, but it seems the advice is for people to grit their teeth and bear it as best they can.

“This attitude will not suffice. Although we may be battling extreme heat now, the Winter warns of even graver danger as millions of Britons will be plunged into fuel poverty. Action is urgently needed.

“The development of a long-term collaborative strategy between government, energy providers, retailers and consumers is required urgently. At ZIPZERO we’re working tirelessly to make this a reality. The country cannot afford to wait for the government’s next leader to be appointed, so we are imploring the public and private sectors to work together on innovative solutions that could help people fight their way out of the cost-of-living crisis.

“What would those solutions look like? Here’s one: retailers and brands could redirect the massive £27 billion they spend each year on digital marketing back into customers’ pockets in the form of cash rewards from their everyday shopping, helping them to pay their spiralling energy bills. ZIPZERO is proud to be working with great brands to make this happen, and we are calling on more retailers to join us.”

Employers must play their part

Chieu Cao, CEO of Mintago, said: “With inflation soaring ever higher, it is clear the financial burden faced by Britons is set to remain for some time. And with Mintago’s recent research revealing that with over two thirds (68%) of respondents haven’t received a pay rise in line with inflation, the situation is becoming desperate.

“Something needs to change. Indeed, UK employers must accept some responsibility in helping their teams to regain financial stability – even if they cannot afford meaningful pay rises. To start with, employees must be given the tools, such as access to financial planning platforms or free financial advice, to better understand their finances. Similarly, pension dashboards which allow employees to manage their contributions more easily could also help them overcome short-term financial difficulties.

“Ultimately, there is no quick fix to the current financial situation and the issues that are causing the cost-of-living crisis will remain in place for some time. That said, aside from pay rises, there are other ways in which employers can better support their employees to ease the financial stress that many are under.”

Personal finances and debt support:

Richard Eagling, personal finance expert at NerdWallet, said: “The UK is in the midst of a heatwave, and today’s data shows that the heat is also being turned up on people’s finances, too.

“The current economic climate is as challenging as it has ever been for millions of Britons. Everyone will be impacted by such a high rate of inflation, but it will affect people in very different ways depending on their financial circumstances, commitments and lifestyles.

“Ultimately, each household or individual should do all they can to take control of their finances, make sound decisions on how they are managing their money, and find the best possible methods of dealing with the cost-of-living crisis.

“Price comparison sites could offer some solutions, by allowing households to compare prices for a variety of necessities, from groceries to energy providers. For those that are struggling the most free support is available from debt charities such as StepChange and Citizen’s Advice.”

Fintech and personal finance:

Andy Mielczarek, CEO at Chetwood Financial, a digital bank that operates consumer finance products such as LiveLend, SmartSave, BetterBorrow and Wave, said: “Under the most intense economic conditions, people’s finances are being tested to the limit. What they need, now more than ever, is support from the financial services sector.

“Smart, flexible and personalised financial solutions will be incredibly important in the months and years to come. As the UK continues to rebuild from the pandemic, and with interest rates and inflation both rising notably, we cannot rely on rigid, old-fashioned financial products. From savings and loans to credit and investments, people must have access to responsive and dynamic products that are suited to today’s world and, crucially, adapt in line with people’s needs and the wider economic climate.

“We can be grateful that, unlike previous cost-of-living crises, we do now have financial technologies and digital banks – these are empowering customers through greater choice, more personalised offerings, and long-term financial resilience. Fintech could play a critical role in helping people throughout this testing period and beyond, and I would urge consumers to consider the options at their disposal by thoroughly researching the financial products available, as they may find solutions better suited to their needs.”

Pension planners and the rise of ‘unretirement’:

Andrew Megson, executive chairman of My Pension Expert said: “Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi might have pledged to control inflation, but that will come as little relief to those already struggling as a result of rising prices. This is a particular issue for retirees, for whom there is a very real risk that they will need to reverse their retirement decision and re-enter work.

“Hard-earned money sat in some pension pots will be losing value in real terms as prices around us rise so sharply. In many cases, this means retirees’ savings will not sustain the lifestyle they had planned, or at least not for as long as they intended.

“Concrete plans to tackle inflation and support retirees are needed, and fast. The Conservative leadership contest is an unwelcome distraction from this, but hopefully once it is settled, a strategy can be implemented. For one, I would like to see ministers work closely with regulatory bodies to ensure retirees know where to access affordable independent financial advice, so they can better understand their financial situation, and make any necessary adjustments to their retirement strategy. Without proper support structures, we could see ‘unretirement’ become increasingly common across the UK in the months to come.”

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
Sam heads up Cheshire-based PR Fire, an online platform that has already helped over 10,000 businesses to grab widespread media coverage on their news at an extremely accessible price point.

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