Written evidence from the In Kind Direct CLP0027



Cost of living support payments: In Kind Direct


Founded in 1996 by HM King Charles III, In Kind Direct is a UK charity that believes everyone deserves access to life’s essentials and no usable product should go to waste. We receive consumer products donated by some of the UK’s best-known manufacturers, retailers, and brands. We then distribute them to a network of thousands of organisations across the UK including charities, community groups, foodbanks, and schools. We are a practical response to the widening gap in society – helping meet today’s need and using our insights to reduce tomorrow’s.




  1. To what extent have the cost-of-living support payments been sufficient at helping eligible households meet the cost of essentials such as food and electricity?

An increasing number of households across the UK are being forced to make the impossible decision between keeping warm, fed, and feeling clean as they can no longer afford the essentials they need. A recent survey by In Kind Direct, commissioned from YouGov, found that over 9 million adults in the UK (17%) are living in hygiene poverty, meaning they have gone without hygiene products because they could no longer afford them.1,2 This number has tripled since October 2021, representing a substantial rise in the number of people struggling to afford essentials, despite the implementation of cost-of-living support measures in the same time period.3 More than half (56%) of adults who had gone without hygiene product were in employment, suggesting that cost-of-living and energy bill payments have been insufficient to enable households to access the essentials they need, whether they are in work or not.1


Our survey findings are supported by the experiences of our network of over 5,000 charitable organisations. We have seen the need for charitable organisations grow rapidly over the course of the last year. Through our network, we now reach almost twice as many people each week with product as we did at the peak of the pandemic in 2020 (345,000 vs 174,000).4 Our research indicates that a growing number of people have been pushed into poverty for the first time. They are less familiar with the resources and services available to them, and many are too embarrassed to seek support. In the second half of 2022, 86% of our charitable network reported an increase in people they support who had recently been pushed into poverty.4 Despite cost-of-living measures, charities in our network have increasingly become a source of essentials for people as the basics become unaffordable, as illustrated in quotes from members of our network:


Sometimes parents’ benefits are sanctioned through no fault of their own, we have stepped in and provided them with emergency parcels that include food and hygiene products.”

Children and Youth Project, North West England


We recently supported a family with six girls all with long hair, and some at the age of having periods. This family struggled financially, and food was the most important thing to them, other things were a luxury. At times they were using very cheap washing up liquid for the girls’ hair. We support them with regular haircare and sanitary products which make all the difference to the girls, going to school they feel more confident in themselves as their appearance is clean.”

Community Support Project, North East England


We have a man who is struggling and the care packs that have been given to him have helped him immensely as he has not been able to wash clothes, brush his teeth and shower etc. He said these items became a luxury as his cost of electric shot up so much his benefits would not allow him these basic items”.

Homeless Charity, Wales


Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlights the gap between benefits and the costs of essential goods and services. They have found that 90% of low-income households on Universal Credit are going without essentials.5 In Kind Direct is one of over 90 charities calling for the basic rate of Universal Credit to become linked to the actual cost of essential goods like food, utilities, and toiletries, to protect people from going without.


4. Are there any examples of international best practice in relation to the delivery of emergency cost of living support that the UK can learn from?


In Kind Direct is the founding member of In Kind Direct International, an international network of product giving organisations. Through our French partner, Dons Solidaires, we have identified several French government initiatives providing support during the cost-of-living crisis.


In February 2022, the French government placed a 12 month “tariff shield” on household energy bills, limiting the increase in gas and electricity to 4%. From February 2023, the cap was placed at a 15% rise.6 Over the same time, the UK saw rises of 54% in April 2022, and 27% in October 2022.7


Over the course of 2022, the French government ran discounts on the cost of fuel for consumers. This began with an 18 cent / litre discount from April to September and increased to 30 cents / litre in September and October. From January 2023, the government are offering 100 Euro fuel allowance to the lowest income households who need to drive to get to work.8


In March 2023, an “anti-inflation” deal was negotiated between the government and large retailers in which hundreds of products would be discounted for the consumer.9 This scheme sees retailers absorbing additional costs and offering essential products at a lower price, allowing household budgets to stretch further.  Recent ONS findings show that in the year to March 2023, the prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks in the UK rose at the fastest rate in more than 45 years.10 A similar deal in the UK could make a real difference to the affordability of essential goods for the millions of households currently struggling to get by.


  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2068 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th February - 1st March 2023.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  2. Population calculation carried out by In Kind Direct using data from YouGov and ONS mid-year population estimates for UK adults aged 18+.
  3. https://thehygienebank.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Hygiene-Bank_2022_Hygiene_Poverty_report_v9.0.pdf
  4. ​​​​​​​In Kind Direct Charitable Network Impact survey – January 2023.  689 responses analysed.
  5. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/guarantee-our-essentials
  6. https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/actualites/A15944?lang=en
  7. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9491/
  8. https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/actualites/A16169?lang=en#:~:text=The%20fuel%20allowance%20of%20%E2%82%AC100%20covers%20the%2050%25%20of,the%20%22first%20five%20deciles%22.
  9. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/france/article/2023/03/06/france-launches-anti-inflation-quarter-for-food-prices_6018361_7.html
  10. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/articles/costoflivinginsights/food





May 2023