25 Nov 2022

Cost-of-living special: How UK media are responding to the biggest personal finance challenge in a generation

Welcome to the MHP Group Media Network bulletin. Our unrivalled team of former journalists and media experts bring you the latest insights behind the headlines.


Telegraph readers want to make savings by going green, says the paper’s Head of Personal Finance Ben Wilkinson.

By Keith Gladdis, former Executive News Editor of the Daily Mail 

What kind of stories are you looking for in the Daily Telegraph

We want stories that are valuable to our readers. Valuable in terms of the knowledge they provide, and also in terms of what the information can mean for our readers’ money. We want to see surprising figures or genuinely revealing analysis that puts real world events into context for readers and their money.

What matters most to your readers?

Our readers like to be informed and engaged. They want to see news angles that pique their interest backed up with solid evidence and data. They also like to comment and debate, so love a good talking-point.

How have your readers been affected by the cost of living crisis?

It’s hard to say, but I’d argue with the potential for energy bills and remortgaging costs to soar much higher, we are still yet the true impact of this crisis.

Traditionally, our readers are perhaps older homeowners who have paid off the mortgage and have decent pensions. Inflation has been their true enemy as it eats up the value of their savings.

Our readers are also keen to hear about the savings they can make with green investments such as solar panels and electric cars.

What advice do you have for brands that want to be featured on your pages?

If you want to feature you’ll have to stick your head above the parapet and say something that is worth reporting or provide some analysis or an angle that is worth something to our readers.


Hunt’s Autumn Statement begins an honest conversation with the UK electorate

By Ellie McGarahan

MHP’s Public Affairs team hosted a webinar with a panel of experts including Sonia Sodha, Chief Leader Writer and Columnist at The Observer. Here’s what she had to say on Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement and reaction to his announcements:

  • The statement put forward by the Chancellor was arguably better than many were expecting, particularly with the announcement that spending cuts will be pushed back to beyond the next general election. That said, it’s still going to be painful period for taxpayers and public services, because inflation will erode any extra funding being pumped into supporting them.
  • It’s unsurprising that we didn’t see higher taxes for the wealthy, as to do so wouldn’t have filled the fiscal black hole. Everyone will be paying for these commitments, and everyone will be poorer as a result. The government are beginning to have an honest conversation with the electorate which ultimately boils down to: “you get the services you pay for”.
  • Nobody will deny that there are global macroeconomic factors that will inevitably worsen outcomes for the UK economy, but these have been compounded by many that are unique to the UK, including: Brexit and its negative impacts on export growth; a long-term productivity issue that has long needed to be addressed; and a lack of investment in infrastructure, business funding and skills, compared to other nations.
  • Following Hunt’s statement and in the run up to the next general election, Labour will be trying to “ram home” the message that the pain taxpayers will feel as a result of Hunt’s statement on Thursday is a direct result of the “chaos” caused by Kwasi Kwarteng’s Mini Budget. They will also play into the idea that as gas companies’ profits continue to soar, many will be questioning how fair it is to effectively lower people’s real wages to prop up public services.


“We want to hear from companies there are actually helping”

By Alan Tovey, former Daily Telegraph Industry Editor, and Pauline Guenot

At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies were reluctant to push positive stories. Now with country facing a fresh crisis as the cost of living stretches household budgets to breaking point, does this still hold true?

No, according to Sun Business Editor Ashley Armstrong: “There’s a huge appetite from readers to know what companies are doing to help, and who is doing the right thing.”

For businesses pushing out results, there’s certainly room to mention the cost-of-living crisis. More than one in three consumer-facing companies – 37%, according to analysis by MHP’s Capital Markets team – mentioned the term in updates to the market.

The Sun is willing to report on those companies trying to help consumers and staff as the UK dives into recession, according to Ashley. But only if they are doing it for the right reasons and not as ESG box-ticking exercise.

“We want to hear from companies that are [actually] helping,” she said. “We gave quite a lot of coverage to companies that were doing cost-of-living staff bonuses. I think that it’s really important to show that businesses can be good.”

But stunts just to make headlines that don’t deliver for Sun readers come with a huge health warning, according to Ashely. She said: “What needs to be clear is that they are actually helping, and not just trying to get good publicity.”


The Rise of the ‘Cost of Living Correspondent’

By former ITN reporter Charlotte Grant

For decades, we’ve had Economic and Business Units – now we have dedicated Cost-of-Living teams; units that will be competing against each other to get exclusives, work up fresh angles and unearth the latest data.

The BBC recently announced a new initiative called ‘Tackling It Together’ – bringing together a team of experts to help consumers through the crisis, with former Personal Finance and Consumer Affairs Correspondents like Kevin Peacheyand Colletta Smith becoming Cost of Living Correspondents.

At Sky News, Megan Baynes has been hired as their first Cost of Living Reporter. Megan told MHP the three things she’s looking for when covering the crisis:

  1. Anything data driven must be unusual or shocking. Instead of “90% of people worried about energy bills” or “half of Brits cutting back,” Megan says it’s got be something eye-catching, for example how it could now take 29 years to save for a London flat
  2. Case studies and real people are what she’s most keen on – sometimes that can get lost in the crisis and we forget that behind the data are real people, so any case study that can be put forward is a real bonus
  3. Finally, sending stories under embargo is useful – it always helps give her time to get a story planned and resourced

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