Sitting in the dark and skipping meals – Bedfordians struggling with the cost of living

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Image: Shutterstock/Denys Kurbatov
Image: Shutterstock/Denys Kurbatov

A survey of people living in Bedford Borough has shown some are already having to make heartbreaking decisions to cope with the rising cost of living.

The survey commissioned by Bedford Liberal Democrats has found Bedfordians are being forced to sit in the dark and skip meals.

Some have even had to sell their vehicles which is affecting their ability to get to work.

Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats are now calling on the government to do more to help those who are already struggling to cope.

While much of the responses focussed on reducing energy usage, people also said they are worried they will not be able to heat their homes in winter.

Others said they had to reduce their car usage because of the record high fuel prices, meaning some were missing out on seeing relatives who live further away.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said “It is terrible to read how people are having to make such difficult choices. We need urgent action from the government in order to support our residents.

“Neither the current Prime Minister nor the two leadership candidates have committed anywhere near the support that is needed to help people.”

Many people also said they have had to stop spending on nice-to-haves too, such as eating out, days out for the children, holidays and media and leisure subscriptions.

Bedfordians also said they have had to change their shopping habits to shop at budget stores, only buy essential items or simply eat less.

Others are skipping meals to ensure children and older relatives have enough to eat.

Energy price cap raised

The news comes as the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) has raised the price cap for energy companies, meaning typical energy bills will rise by 80%

It’s now expected that from 1 October a typical household energy bill will hit £3,549 a year.

Speaking to the BBC, Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak says it is clear the energy crisis has “deteriorated” and has vowed to go further with financial support if he becomes prime minister.

Money Saving Expert founder, Martin Lewis, has also issued a warning that he believes “people will die” this winter.

Mayor Dave continued “We are currently working on schemes that will help our most vulnerable residents stay warm this winter, which we will be able to announce in the coming months.

“Local government finances are also incredibly stretched but we are doing everything we can to help people that need it most. Critically, the government must also step up to ensure everyone can stay warm and are well fed this winter.”

Conservative Mayoral candidate, Cllr Tom Wootton (Wyboston Ward), has also commented on the crisis, vowing to support the Council’s call for support from the Government.

“Countries around the world are grappling with rising energy prices and we know we need to do more to help the most vulnerable households,” he said.

“This is why our government is providing £37bn of support to British families with a £1,200 payment for the most vulnerable.

“There are also numerous government schemes to help local Boroughs ensure residents can heat their homes and afford hot meals.

“The Conservative Group we will continue to support the Boroughs applications for these crucial Government schemes so residents in Bedford can keep themselves safe and secure in these difficult months.

“Now is not the time to play party politics with people’s lives, Bedford can rest assured the Conservative Group will work with everyone to ensure our residents can remain safe.”

You can share your experiences by filling in the Cost of Living Survey at bedfordlibdems.org.uk/Cost.