Cost of living crisis – what you need to know

Around the globe, many economies are going through what is being dubbed a ‘cost of living crisis’. There are several factors that have contributed to stopping people’s income from stretching as far as before – and for some, that now means struggling to cover basic needs such as food, warmth and shelter.

This LGIU collection showcases the different components of this crisis and the critical role of local government in the midst of rising concerns. You can find a wide range of tailored local government resources including case studies, briefings, expert advice, research, panel events and more.


Not a member yet? Sign up for a free website account

If you’re interested in what we do but are not part of a member organisation, there is still much to be gained from signing up on our website for a non-member account. You will be able to read additional free content and you can opt to receive ‘And Finally…’ a FREE Friday round-up newsletter and/or our Global Local bulletin, which explores international approaches to a different topic each week. Get a taste of Global Local:

Local government finance 💰

This edition highlights innovative practice and shares resources to help you make the best of your budget. We go beyond the bottom line with findings from LGIU’s Local Democracy Research Centre, which is currently exploring local government funding and finance systems from around the world.

This collection was last updated June 2023

LGIU member resources

LGIU supports our members with a daily news service; key policy round-ups, insight and analysis across the full range of local government topics; original research projects; panel events and workshops for shared learning and networking; discounts on a full programme of local government training and much more.

Is your organisation a member? Then sign up and create your free member website account – it’s your gateway to all your member resources.

Not a member? Why not join us and be part of a community focused on the crucial role of democratic local government in building thriving places and better public services.

Get up to speed quickly

The term ‘cost of living crisis’ is a regular feature in the news cycle currently but what does it actually encompass? This Global Local newsletter is the backgrounder you need to read! It explains the current situation, highlights the aspects that are of most relevance for local government and points you in the direction of leading resources and ideas to help you get to grips with this significant issue.

🔒 Only available to LGIU members and premium Global Local subscribers – subscribe today to gain access!

Volunteer with box of food for poor. Donation concept.

Leading by example


Ways councils are responding to the cost of living crisis

Case studies | 12-min read

This briefing looks at what local authorities across the UK are doing to help residents through the cost of living crisis. UK councils have devised, or are backing, schemes that help people to keep warm, save energy, and feed themselves and their families. Access has been opened to those with a FREE LGIU website account, sign up to read.

Councils facing cost of living pressures head on

Case studies | 11-min read

The cost of living crisis has hit Scottish households hard while local government services are under immense and growing pressure. However, there are a number of ways in which local government is rising to the challenges that these financial difficulties bring. This member-only 🔒 case study briefing shares projects and services that councils are delivering for communities under pressure.

Tackling energy issues

Rising energy costs have impacted organisations in both the public and private sector, and led to questions surrounding what other kinds of roles (other than domestic retail) could local authorities take in the future of energy systems? Despite the current concerns, there are ways local authorities can act to address rising energy costs that put them on a pathway towards a more wide-ranging and strategic role in future energy systems.

The concerns surrounding the cost of living crisis and the energy supply crisis is of great interest to councillors and officers in all types of authority, especially those with concerns for poverty reduction, supporting low-income people and hitting targets to address climate change.

Image SanderStock via istock

Addressing fuel poverty: locally and nationally, immediate and long term

This member-only briefing looks at how local and central government across the UK should respond to the urgent issue of fuel poverty in both the short and long term. Read here.

Energy policy in turbulent times: local government’s role in energy systems

Energy issues are hot in the news currently. This member-only briefing reviews the potential for local authority engagement in energy grid activities and looks at the options for local government action in energy infrastructure, supply and distribution. Read here.

The economic lever of local government’s role in energy systems

Rising energy prices are pushing more households into debt and poverty which will have significant implications for the public sector, including local authorities. Our member-only briefing utilises case study examples that explore how local authorities can take the future of energy systems into their own hands. Read here.

Swift read: Tackling fuel poverty in Scotland

A national strategy to reduce fuel poverty in Scotland has been unveiled – including tighter regulation of housing and better support for households who face barriers making their homes more energy-efficient. This think piece for members looks at the key proposals. Read here.

The cost of heating crisis: where is the UK going wrong?

UK households are paying high prices for heating, and not just because of high energy costs worldwide. Its homes are among the least energy efficient in Europe. So, what can be learned from other countries? This member-only briefing explores the options. Read here.

Switching on to Spain’s community energy initiatives

This briefing explores how local government in Spain has experimented successfully with local solutions for energy affordability. Available to read here for LGIU members and Global Local premium subscriberssign up today to access.

Reports, data and research

At LGIU, we provide several round-up services that offer frequent horizon scanning for the latest research, insights and data that are relevant to the local government sector. From health and social care to housing, and from global think tank findings to parliamentary legislation, our round-up services are a core member benefit that saves you time and makes sure you’re always in the loop – find out more about LGIU membership benefits here.

Below, you’ll find some examples of our report summary service which analyses highly-anticipated research and reports and dissects the implications that the information holds for local government while also keeping an overview of practical application use.

What do we know about in-work poverty and can local government help?

‘In-work’ poverty is a growing concern across the UK and Europe. In the face of it all, local authorities need to find new and innovative ways to maintain service delivery despite inflation, the rising cost of living and increased demand for services. This member-only briefing explores the situation and provides some case study examples. Read here.

Living standards outlook and poverty in 2023

Last year saw inflation in the UK rise to its highest rate for 40 years and an economic shock prompted by the conflict in Ukraine. This member-only briefing looks at two recent reports, by the Resolution Foundation and the JRF, which examine the current state of poverty and living standards in Britain. Read here.

Not heating, eating or meeting bills: Managing a cost of living crisis on a low income

This member-only briefing deals with a short paper published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the impact of the cost of living crisis on low income households. The paper is based on a poll of over 4,000 low-income households. Read here.

First-hand insights and advice

Read it directly from the source. We believe all challenges facing local government and their communities can be best addressed when everyone is working together, and the cost of living crisis is certainly a concern that unites us all. This is why we use the LGIU platform to conduct interviews and facilitate councils and other local government experts in sharing their advice and best practice examples. Check out some of our first-hand accounts on addressing the cost of living crisis below.

Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

Global Local Executive Panel: Approaching climate action while in permacrisis

Don’t miss out on our upcoming panel! We’re gathering together senior executives from Ireland, the UK and Australia to explore how local government can approach climate action while in a permacrisis. These sessions bring together senior executives from international councils to share ideas, compare approaches and explore learning opportunities.

13 Jul 2023 | 08:30–10:00 (BST) | 17:30–19:00 (AEST)

This session is part of our Global Local Executive Panel series. Explore more local solutions to global challenges – FREE for LGIU members and Global Local premium subscribers.

Creativity, hard work and partnership underscore cost of living support at South Tyneside

Many councils are making heroic efforts to support their communities during the cost of living crisis. Councillor Ruth Berkley from South Tyneside Council outlines their approach with partners and wonders why this is necessary at all in one of the world’s richest economies. Find out more about the work of councils to support their constituents during this cost of living crisis. Open to all to read.

Four lessons to help us navigate the cost of living crisis

Many low-income families are teetering on the brink of crisis. How should local government respond? What lessons from the pandemic response can we apply now to do the best for our children and young people? In the article, the National Coordinator for Local Child Poverty Action Reports at the Improvement Service examines four lessons to help us navigate the cost of living crisis. Open for all to read.

Prioritising child and family welfare

Worryingly, children and low-income families have been particularly hard hit as household finances become increasingly stretched – even to cover the very basics like food and shelter. It is during times of crisis like this that we are often reminded just how much the most vulnerable in our society really need the most local government protection and support.

Sharing lessons from Ireland and Spain on actions to tackle child poverty

This member-only briefing explains the fundamentals of the EU Child Guarantee, compares the national plans from Ireland and Spain, and suggests some areas of action for local authorities everywhere to address child poverty. Read here.

Panel summary: Delivering for communities in a cost of living crisis

Members and Global Local premium subscribers can check out the highlights from our first 2023 Global Local Executive Panel. In partnership with the Improvement Services, Chief Executives from around Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Australia came together to discuss their firsthand experience of delivering for communities during a cost of living crisis and how local government can tackle the various challenges it poses. Read here.

Global Local: Poverty and child prospects

How can local governments reduce child poverty and reduce its impacts on life chances for children? This Global Local edition brings you lessons and solutions from local public services around the world. Available to read here for LGIU members and Global Local subscribers.

Unique community cost of living challenges

The impact of the cost of living crisis can look very different for different people in different situations. If you’re interested in finding some more tailored resources, for example, for rural communities or assisting disabled residents, then have a look below as we have several in-depth resources available for particular communities or individual circumstances, such as housing instability and digital poverty.

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

Supporting rural communities who face a cost of living crisis – a real and urgent problem to solve

The costs of living in rural areas is significantly higher than in urban areas across the whole of the UK. This case study briefing for members explores how local authorities are working collaboratively with rural communities and other third-party organisations to tackle concerns surrounding quality of life, especially for the most vulnerable. Read here.

Councils supporting disabled residents through tough times: a new toolkit

This member-only briefing looks at the challenges facing disabled people and sets out options in the form of a new toolkit for councils to consider. It highlights the poverty and additional cost of living challenges faced and the wider challenges for the UK’s 14.6 million disabled people. Read here.

Digital poverty in the UK – Evidence review

The way we live, work, communicate and access services is increasingly digital. Without digital access, people are excluded from many fundamentals, exacerbating existing social inequalities. This member-only report summary explores the Digital Poverty Alliance review of the extent and nature of digital poverty and argues for holistic and sustained action. Read here.

The affordable housing challenge: a new honesty?

This member-only briefing asks if it is time that councils and the wider housing world stopped using the term ‘affordable housing’. It looks at the challenge for councils in ensuring that the housing needs of communities are met. Read here.

Global Local: Climate action during a cost of living crisis

This edition of Global Local highlights ways in which councils can address the climate emergency while also supporting residents through the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis. Available to read here for LGIU members and Global Local subscribers.

Thriving not just surviving – a new approach to understanding wellbeing

Wellbeing has become an established concept in policy making – the idea being that policy should promote not just income but ‘what really matters to people’. This member-only briefing explores a report commissioned by the charity Turn2Us presents a new model of thriving, co-produced in a participatory process involving service users, academics and practitioners. Read here.