Living in Hale Barns and struggling to survive – the families on the breadline in one Greater Manchester’s richest places

Wrapped in a dressing gown, Kylie Jepson stares out the window of her Hale Barns council house.

Her life feels worlds away from those living in the gated mansions around her.

Visibly exhausted, she points to a thermostat in the corner of the room.

“I’m putting £20 on gas and electric daily,” she says.

“I’m scared. I don’t want to go out.

“How do I survive? How do I keep my family going?”

Like thousands of low-income families across the region, Kylie is fighting to keep her head above water.

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A single mum of four, she’s struggled to support her children following the death of her partner.

But her worries are set to intensify when household bills skyrocket on April 1.

While most people in Greater Manchester will feel the pinch, those in the Trafford village are expected to face bigger bills compared to other parts of the region.

kylie jepson

Residents will see a larger increase if they pay by prepayment meter, cash, cheque, or quarterly direct debit, rather than monthly direct debits.

This is due to the costs of those payment types to the energy companies.

And because energy use varies across the UK, if someone’s consumption is similar to the local average, they could end up paying more.

In Hale Barns, households can expect to pay £1,981 more for their gas and electricity this summer compared to last summer – the highest increase in Greater Manchester.

Kylie doesn’t know how she’s going to survive.

“I feel completely anxious,” the 49-year-old, who has Crohn’s and a bone disease, continued.

“It’s absolutely horrendous.

“At the end of the month I have to borrow off my mum.

“I’ve had to cut back on food. I’m not working because I have a disability.

“I can’t go out and find money and I can’t go to work and get it.

Kylie lives on The Mount

“The boys’ dad died 17 years ago so it’s just been taking care of them and I’ve taken on my grandson.

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“It’s a struggle every week, every week. What the hell am I going to do in April?”

In a few weeks, the energy cap is set to rise by a huge 54 per cent, plunging millions into fuel poverty.

The increase means the average electricity and gas bill for a typical household will go up by £693 a year.

Single mum Julie Aston, who also lives on The Mount in Hale Barns, suffers with arthritis.

She has to leave her heating on to stop her being in pain.

And while Hale Barns is a wealthy village popular with Premier League footballers and celebrities, she believes vulnerable families there are often forgotten about.

Julie Aston

“I think a lot of the prices seem to go up in this area because its predominantly a rich area,” she says.

“But I’m on benefits.

“I’m paying £10 a day for electricity. There’s no way I’m going to be able to cope.

“I’m on my own with five kids. I’m disabled as well.

“The council gave us £90 to help for a year. It literally covers two weeks, if that.

“I’m not trying to think about April, to be honest. I’m just hoping they come out with something beneficial.”

Like Kylie, Julie lost her partner in tragic circumstances.

The Mount in Hale Barns

He died in a hit-and-run crash in 2020.

“I don’t see how I’m going to afford it at all – I just don’t think I can,” the 45-year-old continued.

“Here, they expect you to be on high money.

“It’s hard enough trying to feed the kids at the minute. I can’t imagine [the price hike] is going to go down well.

“They say to just turn the heating off, but I can’t. I’ve got arthritis and need to be warm.

“If I get cold, I’ll be in pain. I can’t turn it off; it’s impossible.

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“If they’re going to double the prices, how am I going to do it?”

Julie has even been forced to visit doctors due to stress over her financial situation.

“I didn’t get anything from my partner passing. He used to help out and I used to work and now he’s not here,” she continued.

Julie Aston worries for the future

“I’ve been to the doctors last week; I’ve struggled. I feel anxious and depressed because you can’t see any way forward.

“Especially since my partner passed, it was a loss of half an income.

“Half of my money goes on gas, electric and water, and the rest on struggling to feed my kids.

“It’s just been awful.

“I’ve been running around the house making sure everything’s switched off.”

It’s not just residents in Hale Barns who will be hit hard by the energy crisis.

Business owners are set to struggle too – with some unsure what lies ahead for their companies.

Daniel Chadwick has owned Chadwick’s Family Butchers on Hale Road for two years.

Chadwick’s Family Butchers

I have labeled the energy price hike as ‘ridiculous’.

“My monthly bill used to be £250 – £300 a month, and now it’s £450,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

“It’s not like you can put prices up.

“We’re just coming out of a pandemic and people haven’t been getting full wages for two years.

“People are already struggling. It might be seen as a wealthy area, but there are still some people who can’t afford it.

“It’s crazy. You just don’t know what to say or what to expect next.”

Daniel Chadwick

The 41-year-old is unable to raise prices to balance out costs in fear of losing customers to supermarkets.

“You do get worried,” he continued.

“If things keep going up, you think, ‘How can we carry on?’

“We can’t justify it by putting prices up because people only have so much disposable income.

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“They will go to supermarkets. We can’t get money back that way”.

Ian Macklin, owner of Ian Macklin Estate Agents, has a branch in Hale Barns.

While he has always ‘run a fairly tight ship’, the 72-year-old is also concerned about rising costs.

“I suppose the energy price hike is one of so many at the moment,” he says.

Ian Macklin

“Everything we seem to touch – whether it’s stationery or services – is increasing dramatically.

“It’s part of life at the moment.

“The service we provide has to be as good as possible. There’s nothing we can cut back on.

“There’s not an awful lot we can do. We have so many fixed costs that just cannot be changed.

“We will just hope to carry on the business as we have done.”

Mark Chappell, who works as a floor layer for Quality Fitters in Hale Barn, says the business has seen a real boom following the pandemic due to home renovations.

The company also saves on renting, due to owning the land.

But at home, Mark says he will struggle personally.

“In the carpet trade, since Covid, we’ve been really busy. Everyone’s doing houses up,” he says.

Mark Chappell

“It’s been really busy. It’s been non-stop.

“From a business side it won’t really be any trouble, but from a personal view at home we are going to struggle.

“I haven’t had a pay rise in 10 years and petroleum and energy prices are going up, it’s going to be hard.”

Richard Ordman, owner of Our Deli, isn’t particularly worried about the impending price hike due to having fixed rates.

“At the moment, my bills are fine,” the 49-year-old says.

Richard Ordman

“We have no issues.

“It depends on what you have done. If you’ve done a fixed rate, which is what I’ve done, we just have to manage it correctly.

“Whether in the near future that will change, who knows.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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