The findings are based on a survey of 28,495 people taken on March 21.The results showed that working-age adults were twice as likely to report concerns about their finances as older people, with two in five workers feeling the pinch, compared to one in five of those of retirement age.
There was also a drop in happiness and life satisfaction levels, with fewer than half of adults saying they felt in control of their mental health in March compared to 54 per cent six months ago. Depression and anxiety symptoms are the highest they have been for 11 months, on a level with when the first lockdown was eased in 2020.
Cheryl Lloyd, the education programme head at the Nuffield Foundation, which funded the research, said: “Recent research has shown that the cost-of-living increases are having a negative impact on people’s mental health, especially those living on low incomes. It is crucial that effective mental health support is available and accessible to those who need it.”
The number of people taking personal precautionary measures to lower their chances of catching Covid has also notably declined, the survey showed. In March, just 21 per cent reported wearing a mask in public indoor spaces, compared with 67 per cent over Christmas.
Even before free testing ended on April 1, the number of adults taking a lateral flow test before meeting others had already significantly decreased to 12 per cent from 43 per cent at the end of last year.
Dr Fancourt added: “The findings reported here highlight how the Government’s new relaxed Covid-19 guidelines have affected the way that people view the illness.”