Introduction to the Cost of Living Steering Group

The New Forest Cost of Living Steering Group was set up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide a coordinated response against poverty in the New Forest.

The Cost of Steering Group is made up of four local food banks: ‘New Forest Basics Bank’, ‘Ringwood Foodbank’, ‘Waterside Foodbank’ and ‘Youth and Families Matter’; ‘Citizens Advice New Forest’, ‘Community First’, a researcher in health inequalities at the University of Southampton, a council officer from New Forest District Council and a Local Community Organiser and Campaigner funded by the Trussell Trust.

We have produced two reports: ‘The Cost of Living in the New Forest’ (2022) and ‘Cost of Living Community Conversations: New Forest‘ (2024). This research shows that people living on a low income in the New Forest face significant local challenges, such as barriers to employment opportunities, unreliable public transport, a lack of availability of housing, disrepair in existing housing, poor mental health, access to healthcare, and hidden costs of raising a family, amongst others. Such challenges and deprivation are often masked by the outward affluence of the New Forest. These local, structural issues continue to be compounded by various rising, unavoidable costs.

We are now working on a ‘New Forest Poverty Action Plan’ designed to take proactive, preventative action against the drivers of deprivation in the New Forest.