Home / Research / Reports

A Torn Safety Net: How the cost of living crisis threatens its own last line of defence

A Torn Safety Net: How the cost of living crisis threatens its own last line of defence

Hannah Rich’s report on the effect the cost of living crisis has had on social and economic security. 07/11/2022

While the cost of living crisis has made life acutely less secure for many people, this level of chronic insecurity has been growing over the longer term. The collective impact of household insecurity is beginning to show in whole communities. It is no longer a crisis only of individual circumstances, but a systemic problem, reflected in the fraying fabric of civil society and faith groups. These institutions form a vital part of the safety net offering security and material support to millions of people but are themselves becoming less secure. There is a risk that churches and other faith groups will close, not because of falling attendance or religious affiliation, but because they cannot afford to keep the lights on. 

This report is the culmination of a year–long project exploring how insecurity, both economic and social, is affecting churches, faith groups and local communities.  

It draws on 48 interviews with faith leaders, volunteers and charity workers in four local authority areas across England and Scotland. These took place over the course of 2022, as the cost of living crisis emerged and deepened. The report details the scale and scope of this issue, which we argue constitutes an emerging ‘social recession’. We argue also that there is a strong theological rationale for taking insecurity seriously as a socio–economic issue, distinct from poverty, rooted in the Old Testament. 

It is critical that community and faith groups are supported and secured both during and beyond the current crisis, and to this end we offer policy recommendations which focus on systemic as well as individual insecurity. 

Read the full report here.


Interested in this? Share it on social media. Join our monthly e–newsletter to keep up to date with our latest research and events. And check out our Supporter Programme to find out how you can help our work.

 Image by Africa Studio on Shutterstock

Hannah Rich

Hannah Rich

Hannah joined Theos in 2017. She is a senior researcher working on theology and economic inequality. She is the author of ‘A Torn Safety Net’ (2022).

Watch, listen to or read more from Hannah Rich

Charity, Church, Churches, Cost of living, Economy, Precarity


See all


See all

In the news

See all


See all

Get regular email updates on our latest research and events.

Please confirm your subscription in the email we have sent you.

Want to keep up to date with the latest news, reports, blogs and events from Theos? Get updates direct to your inbox once or twice a month.

Thank you for signing up.