Around a year ago, Rachel Dorricott and her husband, in a typical week, would go out for dinner, or maybe a picnic. They also liked to visit the cinema. Now, all of that has had to stop. Due to the rising cost of living, the Dorricotts have been forced to cut back on their food and their social life.
Rachel, 26, a writer who works in Acton, West London, would hop on the bus and then take the Overground to get to work, which would take her around 45 minutes. Now, when money is getting particularly tight, she takes two buses instead, even though it will take her almost two hours to get there.
She told MyLondon: “We have been struggling to pay for things … I’m planning on boiling this summer without fans, living off 85p frozen dinners, taking cheaper routes on my commute to work even though it takes over an hour longer. “
‘We live off frozen meals for half the week’
Travel is not the only thing affecting the Dorricotts’ finances – as with many people in the UK, the rising cost of food has been a big issue. According to a study carried out by PayPal, the cost-of-living crisis is currently the leading cause of anxiety for one in four young people. Of those, 43 per cent said food had hit their purses the hardest.
The rising cost of food has been a particular concern for Rachel as she suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), meaning she has special dietary requirements. That includes gluten-free food, which is often more expensive. She told MyLondon: “It has been getting harder and harder, especially since electricity prices have gone up. It’s horrible knowing that I can’t take better care of myself and my health.” Just recently, she experienced stomach problems that kept her off work for nine days, adding: “Part of that was due to me taking less care of my diet.”
Regardless, Rachel and her husband have resorted to splitting their week into two – in the first week, they will eat almost exclusively frozen ready meals from Tesco. In the second half of the week, they will treat themselves to slightly more expensive foods in pasta and rice dishes.
Rachel estimates that she used to spend over £ 50 each week on food between the two of them. Now, the pair rarely go over £ 20. Though its been hard, it has certainly helped. So has the government, though she doesn’t think it has gone far enough.
She said: “I feel like the energy bill rebate was a good start, but that being a one-off is wildly unhelpful – it wasn’t enough for people. I feel like if they were to do that quarterly it would be better. “
The government has said that it stands ready to help people if more is needed. Though there have been energy and council tax rebates, the help has stopped there. That’s after prices rose at their fastest rate in more than 40 years in the 12 months to April as inflation hit 9 per cent.
The cost of living is an issue seemingly impacting Londoners the hardest. Almost a quarter of a million of households in the capital face a choice between heating and eating, according to research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
In the capital, that represents about one family in 15, a higher proportion than anywhere else in the UK. That means for now, people like the Dorricotts across the capital will be cutting back costs for the foreseeable future.
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