Society Watch 2023: The Price We Pay - the social impact of the cost of living crisis

On 6th July, NatCen published this research report, exploring the social impact of the cost of living crisis.

On 6th July 2023, the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) launched its fourth annual Society Watch report.

The aim of the Society Watch series is to provide a snapshot of what life is like for people in Britain today, focused around a particularly timely societal issue. 
This year’s report focuses on the social impact of the cost of living crisis. Drawing upon new and existing research, including fresh findings from the NatCen Panel, the research explores how the crisis has impacted different groups in society, their spending patterns, mental health and what it might mean for future generations.

Society Watch 2023 provides a clearer picture of how society has been impacted by the second nationwide crisis in three years. These findings shine a light on the state of the nation and provide an indication of future social risks that may require action in years to come.

The research covers the impact of financial insecurity, food insecurity and housing conditions on physical and mental health, child development, and on social, fiscal and economic conditions more broadly. 


Nuffield Foundation logo

This event was supported by the Nuffield Foundation, an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social well-being. Amongst other topics, the Foundation funds research into the cost-of-living crisis to provide policy makers and practitioners with insights to better mitigate its impacts on individuals, families and society. Find out more about the Nuffield Foundation here.


  • Richard Brown

    Richard Brown is Director of Society Views at the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). He has worked in public policy and research roles for the last thirty years – including as a local government researcher at the Audit Commission, manager of the Mayor of London’s architecture and urbanism unit, strategy director at London Legacy Development Corporation, and deputy director at Centre for London.

    Alongside his part-time role at NatCen, Richard does other freelance research and writing work – with a focus on urban policy and skills – and is a non-executive director of London Modern CIC and The Evidence Quarter CIC. He is co-author (with Richard Rogers) of ‘A Place for All People’ (Canongate 2018), and co-author and -editor (with Jack Brown and Tony Travers) of ‘London’s Mayor at 20’ (Biteback 2020).

  • Hannah Brinsden
    Head of Policy and Advocacy Food Foundation
    Hannah joined the Food Foundation in May 2023 as the Head of Policy and Advocacy. She oversees their portfolio of policy and Government engagement activities. Prior to this, she worked at the World Obesity Federation for over 10 years where she worked across a range of issues including childhood obesity, food systems and healthcare. She previously worked at Consensus Action on Salt and Health as a Nutritionist, leading on product surveys. Hannah has an undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Reading and a PhD in Food Policy from City, University of London which explored the role of NGO advocacy in UK nutrition policy.
  • Andrea Barry
    Senior Economist Youth Futures Foundation
    Andrea is a Senior Economist at the Youth Futures Foundation, where she manages economic analysis projects and externally commissioned data projects. She has previously worked as a Senior Analyst at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and as an Economist at Transport for the North. At JRF, she played a key role in providing analysis and evidence to help more people find a route out of poverty through work. She completed her postdoctoral research with the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester, and finished a PhD in Economics at the University of York.
  • Alex Beer
    Programme Head - Welfare Nuffield Foundation
    Alex Beer is a Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation, responsible for delivering strategic priorities through bold new projects and collaborative partnerships, alongside contributing to the development and management of the Welfare grants portfolio. Prior to joining the Foundation, Alex was a senior economist in government, with over 15 years of professional experience leading evidence-based policy change. She led development of the Department for Work and Pensions’ Evidence Strategy, ran the department’s Model Development Unit and worked across government to establish and lead the cross-departmental Child Poverty Unit as its Head of Strategy and Analysis.
  • The Rt Revd Paul Butler
    Bishop of Durham
    The Rt Revd Paul Butler has been Bishop of Durham and a member of the House of Lords since 2014. He leads on Children and Families; Welfare; Education and Refugee matters for the Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords. In March 2023 his Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill was approved and passed to the House of Commons. Bishop Paul chairs the National Society, which is the education department of the Church of England. He is a patron of the North East Child Poverty Commission, and sits on the board of Reset – a charity that promotes Community Sponsorship of refugees.


  • Sir Stuart Etherington
    Chair of the Board of Trustees National Centre for Social Research
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    Sir Stuart Etherington joined the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) as Chair of the Board of Trustees in February 2021. He was Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) until October 2019, previously Chief Executive of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), and was appointed Chair of The Oversight Trust in July 2020.

    He was knighted in 2010 for services to the voluntary sector. Sir Stuart was a member of the Economic and Social Committee of the European Union and recently Chair of London United. He was Chair of the Patron’s Fund and chaired a cross party review looking at the structure of the regulation of fundraising. He is also an IES Honorary Fellow.

    Sir Stuart has been a Trustee of Business in the Community, the Chair of the BBC Appeals Advisory Committee, a member of the Community and Social Affairs Committee of Barclays Bank, former Chair of Guidestar UK, Treasurer of CIVICUS and Chair of CIVICUS Europe, council member of the Institute of Employment Studies, an advisory group member for the Policy Centre at the British Academy and for the Lord Mayor’s Trust Initiative.

    His Government appointments have included the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit’s Advisory Board on the Voluntary Sector and HM Treasury’s Review of the Voluntary Sector.