Food or bills? Pay cut is coming


Inflation will rise higher than wages this year, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

Inflation is expected to hit 3.4% while pay will only go up 2.7% on average. This effectively means a pay cut for many households.

The consequential strain caused by rising energy charges, housing and grocery bills will mean many will feel the pinch.

We recently revealed that one in four low-income families already can't afford to eat regularly and more than eight million people live in food insecure households.

Is your weekly shop getting more expensive?

With the news that the average weekly shop has risen to £85.25, we asked: Is your weekly shop getting more expensive?

Sarah Carter, in a household of three, said: “I have noticed things jumping up between 5p-10p lately. I know this doesn't seem much but it adds up - meaning the shop I would have got for £40-45 is now £45-50.”

Pensioner Barbara Vickery added: “Since we retired some six years ago our pension pays the rent and internet charge, so our other bills have come out of our savings.

“We only use the car for food shopping and combine one of those trips with a visit to my elderly sister to do her garden, and check on her. We don’t have pleasure trips anymore and takeaway is a thing of the past.”

Sarah Rake, who recently switched from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), stated: “I need a special diet because I have chronic illnesses and I go without eating in the daytime because it's too expensive.”

The Trussell Trust's experiences

The Trussell Trust recently said they handed out 1,182,954 emergency food packages last year.

Korrie-Mia Baker said: “I see more and more people shopping in the reduced sections out of necessity now. It's a swarm of desperate folks every evening hoping to get lucky and feed their families for a few pence and save their children from another night of frozen reconstituted chicken nuggets and chips.

“These poor children suffer through a diet devoid of anything fresh and wholesome, the only colour coming from food dyes. For some families there is simply nowhere else to cut the money from.”

Universal Credit

In areas where Universal Credit has been fully implemented, the use of foodbanks has risen by 16.85%.

Valerie Moon, who spends £35 a week on food shopping, said: “Sometimes I only eat one or two meals a day so we can afford to have semi-better meals. Christmas is tough and generally we receive a lot of help from family which can be embarrassing.”

Elisabetha Dracul, a carer and single parent, added: “I have seen the prices of everything go up by 75% or more in the last 30 years, most of it in the last five years.

“The prices have gotten so high that on a weekly basis I have to sit down with my now grown up sons and decide whether we pay bills or we eat."

Turn2us help

If inflation, low wages, or the cost of your weekly shop has caused you financial stress, visit the Find Benefits and Grants page of our website to use our interactive tools to find financial help through benefits and/or grants.