"The cost of living crisis continues to affect makers and the craft community. We know many makers are worried about their finances including income, rising studio rent, energy and materials costs - and the negative effect on their mental health.
The cost of living crisis refers to the fall in ‘real’ disposable incomes (that is, adjusted for inflation and after taxes and benefits) that the UK has experienced since late 2021.
It is being caused predominantly by high inflation outstripping wage and benefit increases and has been further exacerbated by recent tax increases.
Other factors contributing to high inflation are the rising cost of raw materials following the pandemic and global extreme weather conditions, the war in Ukraine and other socio-political events happening in the world." - Craft Scotland
While the guide is aimed at makers in Scotland, we hope you will find that much of the information is relevant to the wider UK maker's community and anything that is Scotland-centric may have equivalent resources throughout the UK. As such, we have added to or adapted some of the information provided by Craft Scotland.
- UK Government have collated resources on Help for Households.
- Energy Bills Support Scheme from UK Government. £400 off energy bills for households in Great Britain.
- If you receive tax credits or benefits you may be entitled to an extra cost of living payment (UK Government).
- Turn2Us is a national UK charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially.
- Citizens Advice have collated resources for households navigating the cost of living crisis.
- Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Experts website is a trusted source with advice and tips on entitlements and how to save money.
- Mental Health Support available in the UK: Mental Health & Wellbeing resource list.
Advice for Craft Businesses
- Check your business energy bills are accurate. If you are struggling to pay your business energy bills, refer to Citizen Advice.
- Refer to The Illustrated Freelance Guide written by Heather Parry and illustrated by Maria Stoian. Aimed at makers in Scotland but with useful advice relevant across the UK.
- Get paid fairly. If you are based in Scotland, refer to the Scottish Artist Union Rates of Pay when setting rates and before finalising contracts.
- Artists' Union England supports freelance artists based in England.
- Arts Council Wales has useful information on funding and resources. See also Arts Council England and Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
- Review your business and map out areas of risk in terms of cost of living impacts. Could you diversify your supply chain or combine purchasing power with other makers?
- Apply for grants. There are a number of grants and awards available to small businesses.
Consumers of Craft
In recent years, we have seen a growing UK audience for contemporary craft alongside a DIY boom that has seen the rise of craft workshop attendees.
However, we now know that the cost of living crisis is affecting consumer habits, many are reducing their discretionary spending in the face of rising costs for everyday essentials (food, energy and petrol). Attendance at cultural activities is also expected to be lower than pre-pandemic levels (The Audience Agency).
In the recent WGSN webinar “WGSN Live: Strategies for Recession Resilience” their forecasting experts recommended that businesses should communicate any cost rises to their customers and take the time to explain that there may be supply chain issues for example. Customers are looking for transparency from the business they choose to engage with.
WGSN also stressed that it was important for businesses to communicate the value of their products, what makes them special and how they add to customers' quality of life. During times of economic downturn customers turn to ‘little luxuries’ as shown in the Lipstick Effect. WGSN emphasised that consumers will continue to be focused on sustainability, home interiors, nature and wellness. These shopping trends resonate with contemporary craft and highlight there is still a desire for handmade objects made from natural materials.
Looking ahead to 2023
With challenging times over the past few years and more to come as we head into 2023, we hope that this overview of resources may help if you are struggling or simply need some advice on next steps. We would also like to encourage all of our makers to get in touch if you need any help or advice in maximising the potential of your listings with CraftCourses to ensure a positive response in the year ahead and beyond.
We are a small friendly team, always happy to help or offer advice, and above all, we too are creatives who want the best for all of you.
This article is for information purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional or legal advice. Always seek the advice of your local authority, trade union, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government or the UK Government on matters relating to the cost of living crisis.