A London billboard is printing out receipts comparing Universal Credit to cost of living

The giant receipts tally up essential costs against the basic rate of Universal Credit, before being repurposed as fly posters.

6 April 2023

A new campaign from creative agency Don’t Panic and NGO and charity The Trussell Trust has turned a billboard in Finsbury Park into a till. The huge receipts printed at the London site will show the discrepancy between essentials costs in comparison to the basic rate of Universal Credit. Passersby will also see the receipts used as fly posters, pasted across different sites throughout the area. The aim is to raise urgent support for the Essentials Guarantee – an independent system that would ensure Universal Credit’s standard allowance, after deductions, will always cover a claimant’s essentials.

The Trussell Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) – the independent social change organisation – have calculated that a single person in 2023 needs £120 a week to afford essentials after housing costs while a couple needs £200. The Essentials Guarantee shows that the standard allowance is falling almost 50 per cent below this amount in some cases. The JRF report finds that 90 per cent of low-income households on Universal Credit are currently going without essentials.


Don’t Panic / The Trussell Trust: It Doesn't Add Up (Copyright © Don’t Panic / The Trussell Trust, 2023)

Receipts printed at Finsbury Park will show the discrepancy between real people’s standard allowance and weekly essentials. They also feature quotes from people receiving Universal Credit who have used a food bank – as well as volunteers – discussing the choices they’ve had to face as a result, like choosing between heating and food.

Paddy Paddison, senior creative at Don’t Panic says: “Hopefully by sharing people’s real stories in this way we can help others understand the scale of the problem. Universal Credit just isn’t enough, especially in the cost of living crisis.”

“This giant till roll makes it impossible to ignore the fact that the cost of even just essential items is surpassing the amount that hundreds of thousands of people in receipt of Universal Credit must live on each week. We want everyone who sees it to stop and think about how they would cope if they had just £85 a week to live off – you quickly realise that it just doesn’t add up,” says Emma Revie, The Trussell Trust chief executive.

The campaign will be supported on social media, where receipts telling personal stories and listing weekly essentials will be shared further.

GalleryDon’t Panic / The Trussell Trust: It Doesn't Add Up (Copyright © Don’t Panic / The Trussell Trust, 2023)

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Don’t Panic / The Trussell Trust: It Doesn't Add Up (Copyright © Don’t Panic / The Trussell Trust, 2023)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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