Cost of living: 'I don't put the heating on; I just wear my fleece' – BBC


By Kathryn Doherty
Journalist, 5 Live Impact

The rising cost of living has forced many people to make difficult choices. The BBC spoke to people in Leicester about what their options are.
Bhavna Patel says the rising cost of fuel has had an impact on her ability to get out and about.
"I want to go out for my mental health and for volunteering and helping other people, but I can't do that," said Bhavna, 51, a mother of two from Braunstone Town, Leicester.
I need fuel for emergencies… should I need to go [to the] doctor, if I've got no one to take me.
"I like to be independent and only ask for help when I absolutely need it – and to be independent I need fuel."
Bhavna is a former NHS worker who had to retire on health grounds.
Since leaving her job, she has done permitted work which means she can only work for a maximum of 16 hours a week.
"I'm making all the effort I can, heating-wise, in the house. If I'm alone, I don't put the heating on – I just wear my fleece or whatever," she said.
She said she has done a programme with a debt charity to look at areas where she might cut expenditure.
"Hence the long hair – I've not had a haircut," she said.
"I've had to cut down on everything, absolutely everything.
"I don't go out. I'm having to think all the time which then just puts me in depression because I'm just tired of thinking."
Sherylin Wileman, 22, who works in retail and lives in Loughborough, said she is concerned about stagnating wages.
"The cost of everything is rising, but wages aren't," she said.
"Retail is one of the lowest paid sectors across the country.
"If you want to lift yourself out of poverty, the problem is that work is insecure in this country."
She said she would like to see employment legislation changed to protect workers' rights better.
"We've got fire and rehire, we've got the gig economy," she said.
"You've got valid jobs being turned into apprenticeships."
Stacey, 33, from New Parks in Leicester, has two children and works 27 hours a week.
"I've paid my tax, paid my National Insurance so I've paid my way," she said.
"I should expect something back, a bit of help, but there's nothing out there at the minute.
"Every April rent goes up, council tax – I can almost guarantee that's going to go up, it always does every year.
"My council tax bill is £130 – is that going to go up to £150?"
She said at Christmas she buys presents using buy now, pay later schemes.
"I get myself in debt and I have to pay it off," she said.
"I've got a bill coming up for £286; if it's not paid off by the 20th, I've got 49.6% APR on top of that.
"I don't know how I'm going to pay it and I've obviously got to find the money from somewhere."
She said she was having to make cutbacks.
"I have to sacrifice heating, I have to sacrifice nice food," she said.
"We don't eat out; we go budget supermarkets."
She added she was frustrated because she wanted to spend her wages on her family.
"I can't. I'm spending it to live," she said.
A HM Treasury spokesperson said: "We understand people are concerned about pressures on household budgets which is why the Chancellor announced a £9bn package to protect millions of households against the impact of rising global energy prices.
"These progressive measures are targeted to the people who really need it."
For more on this story, listen to 5 Live Drive on BBC Sounds.
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Are you affected by issues covered in this story? Are you a pay-as-you-go energy customer who has been going without gas and electricity ahead of the big price rises? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.
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