Almost one in five people will skip meals this winter as cost-of-living crisis intensifies

Price squeeze to hit Christmas festivities with about one in three cutting back on gifts and one in four to buy less food


Published  09 December 2022
   5 min read

Almost one in five (17%) people in Ireland will skip meals this winter due to the cost-of-living crisis and almost one in ten (8%) won’t turn on the heating at all, a new survey from Royal London Ireland has found.

The survey also lays bare the extent to which the price squeeze will impact families this Christmas, with more than one in three (35%) saying that rising living costs meant they would have to buy fewer Christmas presents this year, one in four (24%) saying they would buy less food and one in ten (10%) not being in a position to host family or friends over the festive season.

The survey, which polled 1,000 adults throughout Ireland, was conducted as part of Royal London’s Changemaker’s Programme, which helps social enterprises find innovative ways to build people’s financial resilience and to move fairly to a sustainable world. The programme, which is in its second year, considers important social issues and the impact on people and communities as we work to improve financial resilience and move towards net zero.

Sarah Pennells, consumer finance specialist at Royal London commented on the findings, “These results show the stark reality that people are facing into this Christmas – and they reveal a deeply concerning financial situation for many households. Almost everyone is feeling the pressure and the majority are going to have to make some changes to what they use and spend over the coming weeks. It’s no surprise therefore that so many people are cutting back this Christmas – but for one in ten, the cost of living crisis means that they can’t afford to host family or friends this Christmas. However, it is particularly worrying that the price squeeze will force almost one in five to skip meals – and almost one in ten not to turn on their heating at all – this winter.

“While there’s no doubt that the current economic climate is affecting everyone, our research shows that it’s women in Ireland who appear to be feeling the strain most of all. More women than men said they are feeling stressed and anxious, and larger numbers are changing their habits to save money."

Highlights from the Royal London Ireland’s Changemakers survey include:

  • Almost half of people (45%) will use home heating this winter only when absolutely necessary due to the price squeeze, with women more likely than men to take this measure (51% of women v 32% of men).
  • The most widely used coping mechanism to manage rising living costs is to buy more budget-range groceries - with 56% of those surveyed saying they will do so this winter. About one in two are now cutting out luxuries to make ends meet with 49% saying they will cut ‘big’ luxuries and 47% saying they will cut out ‘little’ luxuries.
  • More women (65%) than men (36%) said they would buy more budget-range groceries and women were also much more inclined than men to cut out ‘big’ luxuries. Almost four in ten women (39%) said they would buy fewer Christmas presents – compared to only one in four (25%) men.
  • Women are more likely than men to feel the emotional toll of Christmas – with almost one in two women (48%) admitting to feeling anxious compared to one in three (32%) men. Nearly twice as many women (39%) as men (21%) feel overwhelmed by the cost-of-living crises and other news items at the moment. Women were also more likely than men to feel stressed (41% versus 29%) and helpless (31% versus 21%).

An Uncertain Future

“An unsurprising finding from the survey is the high level and intensity of public concern about the cost-of-living crisis and the prospect of a recession,” said Ms Pennells.  “Almost everyone (95%) is concerned to some degree about the rising cost of living – with almost one in two (46%) ‘extremely concerned’. Nine out of ten people (91%) are concerned about the likelihood of a recession or economic downturn.

“A standout finding from our research is the combined effect of the price squeeze, the prospect of a recession, the war in the Ukraine and the climate crisis, on people’s mental health. More than one in four (43%) say they feel anxious as a result of these issues, with a high portion of those surveyed admitting to feeling stressed (37%), overwhelmed (33%), helpless (27%) and depressed (22%).  More than one in four (27%) believe there are too many problems in the world for them all to be solved.

“Our research shows that those aged 55 and older are more likely to take a pragmatic approach to the current crises as this age group is the least likely to feel overwhelmed by them – 29% compared to 36% of people aged 18 to 34,” said Ms Pennells. “Nevertheless, the preponderance of ‘bad news’ stories and tough challenges that so many are faced with today is really weighing people down. While it is natural to feel stressed and anxious when faced with challenges, ongoing stress can itself start to feel overwhelming, which is why the fact there’s unlikely to be an improvement to the cost of living in the next few months is so worrying”.

Rewarding Change

Ms. Pennells outlined what the Changemakers programme hopes to achieve, “Royal London is committed to helping facilitate a Just Transition: where we as a society move to a low carbon economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive to everyone as possible. To help bridge the gap between moving into a sustainable world while combatting the cost of living crisis, we have announced ten new social enterprises across Ireland and the UK as part of our Changemakers Programme, now in its second year. This year’s enterprises have been chosen based on the unique solutions they provide to help people move fairly to a sustainable world and promote financial resilience. Each Changemaker will benefit from a €/£20,000 grant, as well as extensive business support from The School for Social Entrepreneurs, which will continue for two years.”

Two Irish companies have been selected:

Pocket Forests
Community Retrofits Ireland

Notes to the Editor:

About Royal London Ireland:

Royal London Ireland has a history of protecting its policyholders and their families in Ireland, and it is committed to continue to do so for a long time to come. Our businesses heritage in Ireland is nearly 200 years. The Caledonian Insurance Company's first office opened on Dame Street, Dublin 2 in 1824.

Today it is owned by The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited – the largest mutual life insurance, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of €174 billion, 8.8 million policies in force and 4,250 employees. Figures quoted are as of June 2022.

Royal London Ireland’s office is based at 47-49 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.


About Changemakers

Royal London’s Changemakers Programme was designed to find innovative ways to build people's financial resilience and help everyone move fairly to a sustainable world. The programme has been running for two years. More details about Changemakers, and its various programmes, can be found at


Royal London surveyed 1,000 nationally representative Irish-based adults aged over 18. Research was carried out by Opinium between 14 October and 18 October 2022.