As of April 1, the price cap on energy bills for households in Great Britain has increased by a mammoth 54% and the pre-announced price rises add to the ongoing misery for consumers who are already suffering as food, fuel and other household bills continue to dream Everything from energy bills to council tax, water bills and even the cost of a pint will be impacted and the Government is expected to announce an increase in the cost of prescriptions in England.
MEN reporter Louisa Gregson went to Bury to ask people on the street how they felt about the much dreaded energy hike and the perfect storm of surging costs and stagnant wages brewing dark clouds over their heads.
Pub and restaurant customers face HUGE price increases due to VAT hike
“It’s a disproportionate financial hammering of the less well off”, says teacher Damien Lansdale. The 50 says he is concerned for people who are really struggling financially and thinks the government are not reflective of the people who are dealing with the cost of living crisis on the street.
He says: “It’s going to hurt a lot of people. Anyone on a low income – it is going to hurt them a lot more.
“Energy companies will be making a lot of money, the government should be helping people but they are not, they should be restricting the energy costs with regulations. We should not have people with personal fortunes of nine figures governing, we should not have a chancellor who is not in touch with the real world.”
Catherine Lansdale, 51, an art teacher and artist agreed with him saying: “There isn’t much to add. It’s awful and it is going to have a big effect.”
Anne-Marie Burns, 62, lives with her 22-year-old daughter in Bury and is a packer for Faith In Nature. She uses an energy meter and says while it works out being more expensive, it helps her keep track. But she says she can no longer get as much for the money on her card from her. And she says at work, her colleagues de ella are also starting to fret.
“I have a card and I usually spend £40 a month,” she says. “But now that is being used up more quickly. I keep everything on low and I am worried – as are the people at work. They say their bills have gone up three times more.”
Ronnie Haywood, 73, and Joan Haywood, 69, live in Burnley and are on a day out in Bury. Ronnie laments how much everyone has lost due to lockdowns and says it’s nice to be out and able to chat to people again.
He says while they aren’t – struggling with a four bedroomed detached house, they have a fairly large energy use and while they have installed meters, their household energy bills have still hiked up from £80 a month to £375. He says, “We are not well off people but we can go on holidays and have cars. It’s the people who are already struggling I really feel for.
“We have paid into pensions what we can, but it is not a lot you get back. I worked for 52 years, if that had not been siphoned off to the government to do other things we would have had a really good pension by now What people in the South don’t realize is that people in the North don’t earn enough to be able to put money away.”
Walking arm in arm and looking forward to a treat of fish and chips in a local bar are pensioners Barbara Forbes, 71, and Tom Forbes, 74, who live in Whitefield. Despite being cheerful, they tell me they are too “concerned” about the rising cost of living. Barbara says their monthly energy has shot up over £70 extra a month.
Barbara, who used to do secretarial work, says trying to raise more money to cover the surging costs as a retiree is not easy. “It’s not like you can do an extra shift,” she says. And she sounds less than impressed with the government. Speaking of the suspension of the triple lock, which guarantees that pensions grow in line with whichever is highest out of earnings, inflation or 2.5 percent, Barbara says: “Rishi taking the triple lock off is really bad.”
The couple claim a small rise in their pension is so low it has given them enough to buy “the equivalent of a loaf a bread a week – “So,” Barbara laughs with a trace of irony – “That’s four loaves of bread a month .”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.