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Cost of Living

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Advice for Employers

From 2021 - 2022 the cost of living increased sharply across the UK, with the annual rate of inflation reaching 11.1% in October 2022, a 41-year high, easing in the following months to 6.8% in July 2023.

High inflation affects the affordability of goods and services for households and the issues surround this has a detrimental effect in many areas of life and business.

We know that those worse off in our communities - those already struggling - are the hardest hit. Tough times. If you are a business owner, in HR or a manager, there are effective actions you can take to support your employees.


Effective actions YOUR TOOLKIT:

  • Review your employees, their job roles, and their salaries. Look at employees that may have more challenges and see if there are any ways you could help e.g., additional hours, flexible working, support if they need to take additional work.

  • Target individuals who might need more support and have other challenges particularly:

    • People with caring responsibilities

    • People with health challenges

    • Women – especially those in part-time, low-paid jobs

    • People from our most disadvantaged wards – St Peter and the Waterfront, Lipson, Efford and Honicknowle. 

  • Check if your employees know about in-work benefits provided by the Department of Work and Pensions or support with childcare.

  • Offer tea, coffee, sometimes the smallest gestures can improve employees’ wellbeing. Everyone loves a hot drink on a cold day, one employer has offered use of a microwave, a toaster, bread, and butter to ensure their team can at least have hot toast before going on-site.

  • Larger companies may be able to offer voucher schemes, childcare support, or sanitary products for their female employees.

  • General health and mental health issues are on the rise and the cost of living and worry is serving to impact further, sign post to Mental Health services, look at how you could provide support in house and simply foster a kind environment.

  • People may be grateful of access to a warm office if they are cold at home, or equally working from home opportunities may help with travel costs.

  • Be aware of charities and community groups that can help e.g., Citizens Advice Bureau, Step Change, Entitled To and Turn to us all can give help on debt, money, or benefit advice. Links in boxes below.

  • Speak to your employees, see if they need help and think about what you can afford to do.

  • The most popular support provided includes wage increases, more flexible working, financial/money guidance, staff benefits and allowences or bonuses (CIPD study). What could you do to make the biggest difference to your staff?

Plymouth City Council has a Cost of Living page dedicated to supporting those who need help, including help with food, bills, employment, mental health issues, homelessness and financial support. Share this with others. It might make all the difference to someone struggling.

"77% (November 2022) of employees who earn below the national median may impact their ability to maintain their employment due to associated costs."

Issues for Plymouth

Although Plymouth’s population is relatively young, with high numbers of part time workers and relatively high economic activity, the flexibility that these things should bring in times of economic downturn are constrained. The characteristics described below means that Plymouth has high proportions of working age people with health conditions (principally mental health and Musculo-skeletal challenges) and high proportions of people (predominantly women) looking after the family home or working part time. 

Characteristics of Plymouth’s economy combine into a unique situation.  

  • The city has some of the lowest wages and wage growth of the Key Cities and top manufacturing cities. 

  • Almost 60% of jobs are in sectors that have low levels of flexible working.

  • The sectors are highly gendered with women predominantly in public sector, education and health and men predominantly in manufacturing.

  • A very high proportion of women work part time and below the Real Living Wage.

  • Over 60% of jobs are in physically demanding sectors.

  • A very low business density. 

How will this impact employers and employees?

The current circumstances present oportunities and challenges:


  • Workers are likely to seek ways to work flexibly to increase their working hours

  • Early and semi-retirement may begin to reverse if people return to the workforce to increase income.

  • Incentives to find flexible or freelance jobs have increased since 2020.


  • With low business density, much of the city population lacks the small business-focussed skills that predominate in the freelance economy and enable businesses to respond flexibly to change.

  • Increased overtime can exacerbate some of the challenges of health, inequality and caring responsibilities

  • Childcare costs and availability are already challenging.

How to achieve changes

We will need innovative, cross sector approaches by businesses, experts and policy makers who are committed to finding new, better ways of supporting the residents and workforce of Plymouth.

Engage with other community groups and Plymouth City Council to see what else is on offer.

Useful information

Current wages benchmarks

  • Median wages are £16.37 per hour Nationally and £14.03 in Plymouth (FT)

  • The National Living Wage is £10.42 (2023)

  • The Real Living Wage is £10.90 per hour – equivalent to £19k per year

Citizens Advice National Data Dashboard 

Cost calculators are provided by MoneySavingsExpert.   

Real Living Wage Foundation employer case studies about responses to cost of living rises 

Low Pay commission report about non-wage benefits

Talk to us!

We have a unique position in Plymouth with the Plymouth Charter and its 350+ signatories who are “committed to a fairer, greener future for Plymouth”. Engagement with them to date demonstrates their proactive approaches to being supportive employers. The Plymouth Charter

Useful Links

Home - (

StepChange Debt Charity - Free Expert Debt Advice.

Benefits Calculator - entitled to - independent | accurate | reliable

Turn2us Benefits Calculator

Universal Credit: information for employers - GOV.UK (

Help paying for childcare

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