Cost of living research project

Health Education England is leading a programme of training working with communities and groups affected by health inequalities to recruit, train and mentor their workforce in Community Participatory Action Research (CPAR).

Independent Lives has been selected to be part of the 2023 – 2024 CPAR cohort, which focuses on cost of living.


The Health Foundation reports that ‘for the second time in 2 years, the UK is in the midst of an economic and health crisis’.

The rising cost of living risks many being unable to afford essentials to maintain their health and bringing increased stress and anxiety as families try to make ends meet.

The Health Foundation identifies that lower income households are more at risk of poor health where nearly half of the poorest of households will have at least one person with poor health.

We know that life costs more if you’re disabled. Research from Scope has discovered that on average, disabled households (with at least one disabled adult or child) need an additional £1,122 per month to have the same standard of living as non-disabled people.

In light of this, Independent Lives, and its community researchers, Polly Bishop, Cara Redlich, and Gareth Shephard is focussing its research on the impact of rising cost of living on disabled people and carers across Sussex.

At the end of the project, our findings will be sent to the NHS to help shape future health policy decisions across England.

Project timeline and stages

May – September 2023

  1. Background – Getting to know people in the community and what they do. Building trust.
  2. Agreement – People decide whether to join the research programme of mutual understanding and an agreed direction.
  3. Choosing the questions – Follow the community’s lead; communities know the issues that need researching.

October – December 2023

  1. Research methods and data collection – Agree how best to reach out to people and collect the data.

January – March 2024

  1. Data analysis – Pull all the responses together. Summarise the community’s position.
  2. Key findings – Write up the information. Extract the key findings.
  3. Presentation – Share findings with all stakeholders. Reflect on what comes next.
  4. Action – Act on the findings. Build on connections and experience gained. Expand the cycle of engagement.

We will be contacting disabled people and carers between October and December 2023 to capture their views on how cost of living has affected them.

If you would like to take more of an involved role in our research project, you can take part in our cost of living steering group.

The steering group provides oversight, guidance, and direction to ensure our project reaches its specific goals.

To join the group, which will run until March 2024, please email

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