How cost of living crisis is hitting people's wallets

The Mercury has launched a Your Money Matters campaign

The Mercury has launched a Your Money Matters campaign - Credit: Archant

The UK is in the midst of a cost of living crisis, and the situation is only getting worse for millions of households across the country. 

Fuel, food and energy prices are all going through the roof, prompting fears that many will have to make a difficult choice between ‘heat or eat’.

Combined with rising taxes, families are facing the biggest squeeze in household budgets in living memory.

woman shopping

The cost of groceries is now 5.2pc higher than it was a year ago. - Credit: PA

That is why the Mercury has launched ‘Your Money Matters’, a campaign dedicated to shining a light on this increasingly desperate situation. 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be telling your stories, highlighting different means of support and asking what is being done to ease the burden on hard-working people.

But just where exactly is your money going, and how did the financial security of a huge portion of the population reach such a precarious position? 

Energy bills 
A huge part of the problem is the rising cost of energy. 
A huge jump in domestic energy bills came into effect at the beginning of April, when regulator Ofgem was forced to hike the price cap by 54pc as gas prices soared to unprecedented highs.
It means typical households on default tariffs who pay by direct debit will see their annual bill rise from £1,277 to £1,971.
Charities have warned one in four people could fall into “fuel stress” if the price cap rises again in October based on current predictions.

Fuel Poverty
Heating bills
Byline: Sonya Duncan

Fuel Poverty Heating bills Heating Bills Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Norfolk Citizens Advice said it had seen an 18pc increase in people seeking help for fuel debt, adding that a repayable £200 rebate on energy bills - available from October -  was unlikely to help.
Its chief executive, Mark Hitchcock, said: “Whilst we welcome measures announced by the government, which will offer some support to people in our area, the proposals do not go far enough.
“If the government doesn’t at least increase benefits to match the current rate of inflation, many more households will be pushed to crisis point and forced to make ‘heat or eat’ choices.”
It’s not just the cost of gas and electricity where people are being hit hard, but heating oil too. 
Residents in Norfolk - which relies heavily upon oil due to being such a rural county - have been met with eye-watering quotes when placing their routine orders. 
Many rural households have seen prices triple over the past six months, but 76,000 in Norfolk are left with no choice as they do not have access to mains gas supply.

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Grocery shopping 
The cost of groceries is now 5.2pc higher than it was a  year ago and, according to the latest data, inflation has hit 6.2pc - its highest level for three decades.
Prices for items including savoury snacks and pet food are among those rising the fastest. 
Inflation is resulting in more shoppers turning to cheaper products and supermarket own-brand labels, while customers are also making fewer trips to stores to save on petrol costs, said analysts Kantar.

The price of petrol 

File photo dated 01/09/21 of an E10 petrol pump at a petrol station. Soaring inflation is continuing

File photo dated 01/09/21 of an E10 petrol pump at a petrol station. Soaring inflation is continuing to bite for British households as petrol prices struck new record highs and the cost of everyday items such as stamps jumped further. Issue date: Friday March 4, 2022. - Credit: PA

Drivers were hit by the largest monthly spike in fuel prices on record in March, according to new analysis - despite a cut in fuel duty.
The RAC said the average cost of a litre of petrol on forecourts rose by 11.6p to end the month at 163.3p. Diesel prices rose even more sharply, up 22.1p per litre to 177.3p.
The increases came despite the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, implementing a 5p per litre cut in fuel duty on March 23. That was worth a saving of 6p per litre owing to the impact on VAT.
Rising pump prices are   being driven by surging wholesale costs caused by the war in Ukraine and rising demand as fewer people work from home.

And the rest...
Families in Norfolk are facing higher water bills after Anglian Water announced increases of more than 6pc from this  month. Norfolk County Council blamed a lack of government funding as it approved a council tax hike of almost 3pc.

It means a £44 increase for Band D properties and £30 for Band A. Pay packets have been hit by the National Insurance tax rise, which came into force last week.

Employees, businesses and the self-employed will pay an extra 1.25p for every pound. Payments will only be collected on wages above £9,880, although this rises to £12,570 in July.

The cost of buying a pub meal, event ticket or hotel stay could become more expensive from this month as the temporary VAT cut on hospitality has come to an end.

This dropped to 5pc to support the industry during the pandemic, but rebounded to 12.5pc in October and has now returned to 20pc. The cost of various mobile and broadband bills, as well as TV subscription services, have all risen in recent weeks.

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