77% of people say that the rising cost of living is negatively impacting how they manage their diabetes or risk of developing type 2 diabetes, our new Cost of Living Survey reveals.
We are calling on the government to take action to ensure everyone with and at risk of diabetes has the money in their pockets to afford the essentials and live healthy lives – not just simply survive.
Our Cost of Living Survey sought to understand the challenges faced by people living with diabetes, amid soaring energy and food prices. This was an online survey distributed in November 2022.
We received 6,490 responses from people living with any form of diabetes, or who have been told that they are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes or have received a diagnosis of non-diabetic hyperglycaemia.
People are cutting back on costs relating to managing their diabetes and are struggling to access care. A wider squeeze triggered by rising costs means people have less money available to live well and remain healthy.
The findings showed that 66% have cut back on essentials like food or energy, or have gone without entirely. And 45% said that stress and anxiety from the rising cost of living has negatively impacted how they manage their diabetes or risk of developing diabetes.
'All the little things mount up’
One Diabetes UK support who is living with type 2 diabetes said in response to the rising cost of living:
“Most of our income is going on fuel at the moment. Due to my health problems, I’m home all day and wrapped up in blankets to cut back on the heating. The only heating in the house is a gas fire, so we usually just stay in the one room to keep the cost of that down as well."
And a parent to a child with type 1 diabetes told us:
“The cost-of-living crisis has really affected us as a family, especially with the food bills going up and the additional costs around caring for our son.
“His pump needs adhesive patches and he’s had awful skin reactions over the last month or so, as he’s allergic to plasters. The money I’m spending on different creams and sprays to help with this are all the little things that mount up and add to that extra expenditure.”
Addressing health inequalities
Among people with or at high risk of diabetes who live in the most deprived areas of the UK, 1 in 10 have been unable to afford to travel to medical appointments.
Furthermore, more than 36% of people with or at risk of diabetes who receive means-tested benefits have cut back on costs related to managing their diabetes, such as hypo treatments or self-funded technology.
One of the most direct routes to addressing health inequalities is tackling insufficient incomes, and the government needs to ensure the benefits system is fit for purpose and guarantees that means-tested benefits are sufficient to cover essentials even as prices increase.
We want the social security system to offer adequate and timely support, and to explore measures to guarantee that the standard rate of Universal Credit is sufficient to cover the cost of essentials no matter what. That’s why Diabetes UK supports the Guarantee our Essentials campaign.
We also want governments and regulators across the UK to investigate the following measures:
- Make sure people with diabetes have protection against disconnection by energy providers
- Guarantee workers a right to paid time off to attend medical appointments
- Ensure the NHS has the funding and workforce available to support people with and at risk of diabetes
- Expand on the success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy
- Ensure Free School Meals provision is consistent across the UK and increase and expand Healthy Start.
If you need further support with the cost-of-living crisis, you can visit our cost of living support page for advice and resources.
Read our full report: The Hidden Cost (PDF, 2.47MB)