Debt and the impact of the rising cost of living



With financial worries a real problem for so many people in Wales the Equality and Social Justice Committee undertook follow-up work on debt and the impact of the rising cost of living. The Committee revisited some of the themes in its previous inquiry on debt and the pandemic and explored the effectiveness of the policy response to the current situation.


Terms of reference

The terms of reference for the inquiry were to examine:


>>>The priorities that need to be reflected in the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget 2023-24 relating to the rising cost of living, including preventing and relieving debt.

>>>How effective Welsh and UK government support has been in supporting those most in need with cost of living pressures, and in preventing and managing debt.

>>>The impact of inflation and cost of living pressures on take-up of debt advice services, and the implications for future demand and Welsh Government policy.

>>>How different groups are experiencing cost of living pressures, and how this is impacting debt issues. How effectively are policy interventions addressing these challenges, and what changes may be needed to meet the needs of particular groups.


Evidence gathering

The Committee took evidence in Spring 2023.

The Engagement Team ran a series of focus groups and their evidence can be found here: Summary of engagement - Debt and the cost of living   PDF 129 KB

The Committee received the following written responses:


Fare Share Cymru   PDF 173 KB

Trussell Trust   PDF 230 KB

Citizens Advice Cymru   PDF 704 KB

Chwarae Teg   PDF 463 KB

Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL)   PDF 148 KB

Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA)   PDF 261 KB

StepChange   PDF 215 KB

Well-Fed   PDF 128 KB


The following witnesses provided oral evidence to the committee on the dates noted below. Transcripts of all oral evidence sessions can be viewed on the Committee’s website.


Peter Tutton, StepChange -  Head of Policy, Research and Public Affairs


Luke Young, Citizen’s Advice -  Assistant Director


Steffan Evans, Bevan Foundation -  Policy and Research Officer

30 January 2023

Sarah Germain, Chief Executive Officer  - FareShare


Jen Griffiths, Service Manager – Flintshire County Council


Robbie Davison - Well Fed

13 February 2023

Nicola Field – Credit Unions of Wales


Karen Davies – Purple Shoots


Susan Lloyd-Selby - Network Lead Wales, Trussell Trust

13 February 2023




27 February 2023

A Ministerial evidence session with Jane Hutt, MS took place on 27 February 2023 at which the Government submitted a paper entitled: "Follow-up work on debt and the impact of the rising cost of living".





The Committee laid its report entitled “Unsustainable: debt fuelled by the rising cost of living” on Tuesday 23 May 2023.


Following publication, Chair of the Committee, Jenny Rathbone MS, stated:


“The cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on the health and wealth of our nation and too many households are facing unacceptable hardships beyond their control.” The rest of the media release can be found here.


Welsh Government response


The Committee received a response from the Welsh Government on 12 July 2023.


A debate was held in Plenary on 13 September 2023.



Further information

Find out more about the Committee’s inquiry into fuel poverty.

You can also learn about the Committee’s inquiry into Debt and the Pandemic.


Business type: Other

First published: 28/11/2022


Background papers