The CEO of NZF says the impact of the cost of living crisis is being seen in many of the applications for help coming through to the charity.
Dr Sohail Hanif told Islam Channel’s NewsTalk show that NZF now has 3 applications every hour from struggling families in the UK. During the channel’s cost of living crisis special programme, Dr Hanif said – “We have people in arrears with their energy bills, families asking for help with day to day living costs, who’ve already borrowed money from family and friends and are worried about how they’ll pay that back. People on pre-payment meters, often those on the lowest incomes, are also paying more. This level of fuel poverty we are witnessing is new”.
Energy price increases are hitting poor families hardest. The typical bill under the existing price cap is £1,971 a year, or £2,017 for the 4.5 million households with a pre-payment meter. The rise in October to £3,549, or £3,608 for those on pre-payment meters, is an 80% increase. Analysts at Cornwall Insight forecast further increases in January, when the price cap is updated again. They say the typical bill will then be £5,386 a year and that more rises will follow.
Last week, inflation hit double digits for the first time in 40 year at more than 10%, with some predictions suggesting a rate of more than 20% next year.
Of those who will be impacted, Muslim communities will be among the worst affected. 46% of Muslims live in the bottom 10% of the most deprived Local Authority Districts in England. At NZF we saw a 90% year-on-year increase in applications for our hardship relief and Zakat funding deficits are running into hundreds of thousands of pounds in some parts of the country. NZF is already increasing grant sizes to families with children.
Dr Hanif reasserted the need for local Zakat to build a sense of community and family. He says – “If we can build a strong faith community, then we will be a stronger member of the wider community. This is why we work with Christian charities to help them also assist people within their communities.”
NZF is now seeking new partners on the ground across the UK to act as community hubs to ensure that as many Muslims in need as possible can be reached.