A public health response to tackle Financial Insecurity

RSPH has published a research report examining the types and causes of financial insecurity and the impacts this has on people’s health and well-being. This report was commissioned by Hull City Council 

The report’s findings indicate:

Case study findings:

  • The cost-of-living crisis has had substantial effects on individuals and their families, particularly among those living with and/or with someone who has health conditions or impairments
  • The rising cost of living has impacted individuals directly in terms of food and fuel affordability, meaning people are struggling to afford necessities that are vital in maintaining health and well-being
" My partner and child have asthma so waking up cold indoors and forever breathing in cold air has affected them and me as well. It is impacting us on the long term because you don’t have the heating turned on as you would.”


Literature review findings:

  • Experiencing financial insecurity lowers well-being and increases problematic financial behaviors (Weinstein and Stone 2018).
  • Financial pressures can also have a detrimental effect on physical health through the affordability of exercise activities and healthy foods (RSPH 2022)
  • Cutting back on fuel often results in conditions (cold room temperature, damp and poor ventilation for example) that can exacerbate chronic and acute illnesses (Local Government Association 2019)
  • There is a growing body of literature that suggests that chronic health conditions and long-term illnesses can exacerbate financial insecurity due to considerable income and expenditure changes related to accessing treatment.
"Our mobility goes down because we are using our money on bills to try keep electrics and gas going. We don’t visit the doctor as much as we should because I can’t use public transport, my partner can’t use it on their own because they can’t see and I don’t have a working wheelchair anymore, so all these things keep impacting.“


Rising poverty levels and widening health inequalities have severe consequences for individuals and communities, the NHS, social care, and for the economy. In response, the public health community and councils are developing support and solutions for their communities.

The Covid-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis have thrown the issue of health inequalities into sharper focus and created an imperative for Hull City Council and its partners h particular attention to already diverse and marginalised communities.


Read the Report


The outcomes of this study have enabled the development of a range of recommendations based on both lived experience and a review of research and policy literature.

Recommendations included:

  • Further developing preventative approaches to financial inclusion, ensuring people can be supported before they reach crisis point
  • Linking up health and care partners across the council, to explore the impact of financial difficulty and acknowledge the link between poverty and health
  • Development of targeted interventions that reflect the needs of groups who experience inequalities, including people from ethnic minority backgrounds, carers, and people living with health conditions 
  • Take a whole system approach to tackle financial insecurity, recognising it can significantly impact health and wellbeing

Hull Council is one example of how public health and financial services are working together to support communities. The Local Government Association hosts a cost-of-living hub that acts as a resource to councils and partners when developing services.

The case studies demonstrated the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on households. This is felt particularly among those living with and/or with someone who has health conditions or impairments.

Read the Report


"I have never had to worry about putting on the heating before, ever. It was always do-able, and now we are actually choosing between heating and eating. Over the winter we have hardly had the heating on and that has been really difficult on me, my partner and my child because of our pain levels, we have been huddled under blankets. With the cost of living help, we have hoodies and big blankets to sit under but it does not stop it."

If you would like to find out more about how this programme was developed or to discuss ways we could assist you with identifying and addressing the widening gap in public health across populations please contact us at [email protected]


You can find out about our policy work on the cost of living crisis here