IInflation is at a new 40-year high of 9.4% and the cost of groceries is set to rise at the fastest rate in 14 years next month, putting a strain on household budgets in the UK United. The problem is particularly acute for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, who depend on benefits that do not keep pace with the rising cost of living and a social assistance system that struggles to meet the request. Three readers share their stories of the pressures they now face.
“We used to cope, but things have changed a lot”
Nichola, 42, a mother of five from Stoke-on-Trent, broke her back and pelvis when she was in the army as a young adult, leaving her with life-changing disabilities that prevent him from working. She says the price hikes have pushed her family to the brink financially.
“Our gas and electricity bill will be almost £7,000 in October if the increase is ‘only’ 42% as expected, which could well be higher.
“We were offered £5,000 for window insulation, but it might as well have been a million; we just don’t have it. My husband is self-employed. We get tax credits, but only for three of our five children. Our youngest has autism.
“I spend £500 a month on petrol to take the children to school, which is four miles away. We can’t afford to live in a nice neighbor near the schools. I leave the house as little as possible.
“The food has become exorbitant. They say the inflation rate is 9.1% [the figure has since risen to 9.4%] but I see price increases of 25-50% in the things we buy. Four pints of milk cost £1. Yesterday it rose to £1.60.
“Despite our difficulties, we are not entitled to free school meals; we are still not poor enough. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for school uniforms.
“Soon I won’t be able to pay for my disabled child’s diet”
Kate, 52, a single mother of two from Devon, has had to give up her job to care for her youngest daughter, who has acquired brain damage after a brain tumour.
The family depends on Universal Credit and Career Allowance, and now struggles to pay for necessities.
“The cost of living crisis is impacting my ability to care for my disabled daughter,” Kate said. “She has a number of health issues, including epilepsy. After trying many different medications that didn’t work, her consultant prescribed a ketogenic diet, per Nice [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] guidelines.
“It’s a highly specialized diet, very high in fat and very low in carbohydrates. Thanks to the diet, her quality of life has greatly improved. But it becomes difficult to afford to provide it.
“There are prescription supplements available, but most foods are commercially available, and many items I can only find online as we live in a rural area.
“Low carb breads, sugar free jams, low carb pastas, almond flour and lots of oil, butter, cream, cheese. These ingredients are much more normal carbohydrates used than rich foods to flesh out a diet, such as pasta, rice, beans or potatoes.
In January, Kate calculated that her daughter’s diet was costing her £50 a week, more than she was spending on herself and her other child. “I haven’t had the strength to recalculate this recently but I know things have gone up. A liter of olive oil at Tesco was £3; now it’s £4.30. Then there’s hidden costs to provide such a specialized diet.
As she has to cook two different meals twice a day, her electricity costs are high. “We don’t have the storage space to buy in bulk or cook in batches. I installed a second fridge-freezer in the living room, but it costs me more to operate. Our electricity costs are often over £6 per day, without heating. Electricity bill is now double what it was.
“We also have hospital appointments. We have to drive, a 35 mile round trip. We’ve had three in the last two weeks. I can’t afford to drive my other one anymore. girl to meet friends.
“I will do everything in my power to provide this diet, but I am terrified that I will no longer be able to afford it.”
“I skip meals so my parents can get the right portions”
Michael*, 35, from South Wales, is disabled on Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance, and struggles to pay for food and growing household bills.
He lives in a public housing apartment with his elderly parents, who have many health problems.
“We have an oxygen machine, which is expensive to run,” he said. “We get a refund for this, but we also have a stairlift and we don’t get any help with gas even though my parents are very vulnerable, especially my mother, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and auto-diseases. immune and needs heating to avoid infections. .
“We are really struggling now, even though the three of us are pooling our money. Prices are exploding.
“We don’t have savings and, unbeknownst to my parents, I’m missing meals so they can eat good portions of food and shopping takes a little longer to save money, so that we can pay the energy bills.
“Most conversations are about money and rising prices. We reduce just about everything, limit the use of showers and do laundry once a week.
“But if prices go back up in October, we will be overwhelmed.”
* The name has been changed.
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