I skip lunch & drink tea to stay full so that I can afford to feed my daughter – colleagues comment on my gurgling tummy
SIPPING on her fifth cup of tea of the day, Ellen Auckland felt her stomach grumble.
The 25-year-old from Barnsley had skipped breakfast – part of her and fiancé Adam Gibbens’ new routine to try and bring down their household bills.
This week the governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, issued a dire warning that Britain faces “apocalyptic” food price rises and fuel bill shocks.
Brits like Ellen are already struggling with the soaring cost of living. Last month we revealed shoppers face paying up to 60 per cent more for groceries as the economic crisis bites.
Speaking to The Sun, mum-of-one Ellen, a part-time service advisor at a car dealership, says she and Adam are already living off one meal a day.
“I now skip breakfast every morning and cut out lunches when I can, instead drinking lots of tea – colleagues at my work have commented on my gurgling stomach, and ask if I’m hungry, and I say ‘Yes!’,” she explains.
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“Last year we spent £50 a week on food without really thinking about costs, but in the last few weeks that bill rocketed up to close to £100, so we’ve had to make big changes.
“We used to get a bottle of fresh orange juice for 99p, and that’s £1.40 now, so we can’t afford it.
“A kg of rice has gone up from 30p to 70p – the list goes on, and it definitely adds up.
“If anything, the price rises are way over inflation, but neither Adam nor I have had a salary increase this year.”
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The couple moved into their house in 2019, at which point their outgoings were around 50 per cent of their income. Now they only just manage to break even.
Ellen says they only go food shopping every other week now, spending around £60, and make sure they eat less for dinner so that they have leftovers for the second week.
“We used to buy a chicken to roast and make two meals out of it. Now we know we have to make three or four meals out of it,” she says.
“I always try to go to Tesco in the evening to get the yellow stickered-foods which are reduced. So often it’s food which is absolutely fine, but you can buy it for pennies.
“We always make sure Lily, our one-year-old daughter, gets the food she needs – she’s our main priority. We sacrifice our food for her.
We always make sure Lily, our one-year-old daughter, gets the food she needs – she’s our main priority. We sacrifice our food for her
“With a small toddler and feeling constantly hungry, it’s really tough, but I know others have it tougher.”
The one cost they’ve managed to cut is their car.
Ellen explains: “I had a diesel Ford Cougar, which I sold last year when second-hand car prices were high, and got an all-electric Nissan Leaf.
“I pay no road tax, and charge it for free when I go to Tesco to do my fortnightly shop, so at least that’s something.”
No more luxuries
The couple have binned off luxuries they used to enjoy to try to ease the burden, and are cutting back their energy use at home.
Ellen says: “We used to have takeaways once a week, but that’s gone now.
“We’re doing fewer clothes washes and cramming the washing machine full so we minimise electricity use.
“Our fixed deal ended in October. Before when we’d been paying a direct debit of £70, we ended up in credit.
“Now we’re paying £140 a month and we’re already £120 in debit!
“I simply can’t imagine how we’ll survive when gas and electricity prices go up again in October. We haven’t had our radiators on since mid-March when the prices went up.”
In the past year, prices for everyday groceries including fish, fruit, pasta and bread have leapt so dramatically that fights are breaking out in the aisles over discounted foods, and desperate families can’t even afford to cook their food because of soaring energy bills.
Earlier this month it emerged one in seven adults live in homes where people have skipped meals, eaten smaller meals or gone hungry because they can’t afford or access food.
The UK economy has fallen by 0.1% as fears mount that the country is heading for recession due to the crippling cost of living crisis.
Boris Johnson said there will be “more support” to help families hit by crippling price rises, but warned he will not keep writing cheques which saddle Britain with eye-watering debt.
WHAT HELP IS OUT THERE?
Welfare assistance scheme
Brits can apply for much-needed cash and vouchers for food, furniture, bills and more via the welfare assistance scheme – and you can get up to £1,000 in free cash.
It's something of a postcode lottery when it comes to what help they can get though as some councils are not as generous in offering help.
And others don't even have a scheme in place at all.
Council tax reduction
Many people paying council tax may not be aware that they can get their bill reduced.
Reductions are available for those on low-incomes, people claiming certain benefits, those caring for others as well as other circumstances.
The amount your bill is reduced by can range from 25% off to 100% which would mean you pay nothing at all for this bill.
You should get in touch with your local authority to apply for a discount.
Energy bill rebate
Later on in the year, households will get £200 off their energy bills.
The discount is applied automatically, but not until October.
But the money does have to be paid back – in the form of £40 added to annual bills over five years from next year.
This month though, plenty of households have already started seeing £150 land in their bank accounts thanks to the Council tax rebate that was part of the same support scheme.
Energy bill grants
If you can't wait until October to get the rebate help, then it might be worth contacting your supplier to access help from one of its grants.
British Gas customers for example, can apply for a £750 grant to help with their energy bills.
But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.
Discretionary housing payment
If you’re struggling to pay rent, you could apply for a discretionary housing payment.
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It's given out on case by case basis though and how much you could get, depends on your personal circumstances.
You need to apply to your local council for the help.
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