Data key to getting help to where it’s most needed

published on 12 Sep 2023

The Salvation Army responds to a new report by the Open Data Institute, ‘The Cost of Living: how data can help tackle the crisis’. 

The Salvation Army’s Lt Col. Dean Pallant said: 

“Salvation Army officers see the real people behind these figures every day in their work with people struggling to heat their homes, feed their family or find work. It’s not true to say that people can’t manage their money; they simply don’t have the money to pay for essential costs. For example, housing benefits have been frozen since 2020, but the report shows that the cost of renting privately has increased by 5.1% from June 2022 to June 2023, the largest annual percentage change since the data was first recorded in 2015. We are calling on the Government to remove the freeze on housing benefits so they can better match the true cost of rented accommodation.

“This report also shows how important it is to truly understand the depth of the problem people are facing today. Clear data is key to getting help to where it is needed most, especially when central funding is being stretched.”

The Salvation Army has previously called for other long term sustainable support for people in poverty, including ringfenced funding for specialist employability support, accessible and affordable childcare, and a new cross-Government task force to tackle, with empathy and compassion, the reasons people are not earning and are trapped in poverty. 

The ODI report shows that the crisis has hit young people hardest according to most measures of poverty and economic difficulties, with one in five (20%) 16-24-year-olds now living in poverty. 

However, the analysis reveals gaps and inconsistencies in the data, with certain individuals and groups being missed completely and disparities in how age group categories and geographical areas are captured by different organisations.

The Open Data Institute (ODI) is a not-for-profit co-founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt. 

A Salvation Army Officer sitting and speaking with an older gentleman with a long silver beard.

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