More than one in five Scots struggling to pay for weekly food shop as cost-of-living crisis bites

More than one in five people in Scotland are struggling to pay for their weekly food shop as the cost-of-living crisis bites, according to a shocking survey.

The research, by Scottish charity Cyrenians, gives one of the clearest indications of the devastating impact rocketing inflation is now having on families.

It comes after Tesco chairman John Allan warned the UK was facing “real food poverty for the first
time in a generation”.

He told how cashiers are being asked to stop scanning groceries when they hit £40 by customers in fear of overspending.

Meanwhile, several NHS workers have told the Sunday Mail of horrifying struggles to make ends meet.

One nurse said she had been forced to reject shifts because she couldn’t afford to put petrol in her car, while another revealed direct debit bills left her with nothing on payday.

A total of 24 per cent of people polled by Cyrenians said they now experience difficulty affording the basics.

The survey also found that 40 per cent of people have cut back on eating out and the same number had switched to cheaper brands when picking up groceries from shops and supermarkets.

The homelessness charity’s chief executive Ewan Aitken said: “We know the cost-of-living crisis is having a big impact on families across the country.

“These results show the real impact being felt by families who are facing difficult financial decisions on a daily basis.

Cyrenians chief executive Ewan Aitken

“This is before the pain of rising energy and fuel costs really begins to bite – we must act now.

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“As we launch our spring appeal, it serves as a reminder of the importance of donations from those who can afford to give.

“Charities like ourselves are on the frontline of tackling the inhumane effects of homelessness and poverty and this work becomes even more important when wider economic conditions are stretching people so thin.”

Cyrenians commissioned the survey from market research agency Scotpulse amid concerns that
the crisis will seriously impact charities.

The survey of 1179 people asked what strategies they had employed to help manage food costs in the month of February.

More than 13 per cent of respondents said they had used credit cards to temporarily cover costs, while 19 per cent said they had skipped meals or reduced portion sizes.

NHS workers are struggling
NHS workers are struggling

Only just over a third said they hadn’t had to employ any of the measures listed.

The survey was carried out to coincide with Cyrenians’ spring appeal – Food Is The First Step – which launched on Friday.

The charity provides 55,000 meals a week to families across the south-east of Scotland but has warned demand is growing fast.

Last week it was reported that more than two million adults in the UK have gone without food for a whole day because of rising costs.

A survey by the Food Foundation think tank said that seven million people were now “food insecure”. Food banks have reported rising requests for parcels which require no cooking because the associated energy costs are prohibitive.

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One Glasgow NHS worker, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I am a single parent and, since I split from my husband, I have been left paying the mortgage alone.

“We just don’t go on holidays – the last holiday abroad I had was in 2014.

“This month was the beginning of the real price increases – all of my bills and direct debits have increased and I have already had to call my bank to increase my overdraft.

“I felt so angry that I had zero left on payday.

“It creates an overwhelming feeling of anxiety having to call and ask my bank for help.

“The sheer dread of them saying no – I’m left feeling like there is no way out.”

A nurse added: “My son’s birthday is coming up and I’ve not bought a
single gift.

“My car has no petrol because I can’t justify topping it up with the current costs when we are struggling to make ends meet.

Tesco Chairman John Allan
Tesco Chairman John Allan

“I’ve had to cancel bank shifts because I physically cannot get to work due to fuel costs.

“I worry every minute of every day about the cost of heating. I will not be able to book holidays ever due to how expensive it is to live on basic things.”

Another worker said: “Over Christmas I missed rent payments to afford my children’s presents. I also have an earnings arrestment for council tax arrears, which doesn’t leave me enough to pay my monthly council tax, so the earnings arrestment will be ongoing forever.

“I can’t see a way out of this situation. The rising cost of fuel is now adding to the stress and mileage
allowance hasn’t increased since I started.

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“At times I feel that I was better off financially when I wasn’t working.

“I love my job and patients but the stress levels are unsustainable – I’m always having to worry about cards being declined.

Former Sainsbury's boss Justin King
Former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King

“I’m very worried about the future and my future in nursing.”

Former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King last week warned the UK’s “golden era” of cheap food is coming
to an end.

He told households they should be prepared for higher grocery bills in the long term.

King claimed supermarkets could not be expected to absorb the extra costs entirely or protect consumers from rising prices.

Last month Tesco and Sainsbury’s reported a doubling in their annual pre-tax profits to £2billion and £730million respectively.

King, who is a non-executive director at Marks & Spencer, warned shoppers would have to start making hard choices.

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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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