British lifestyle: Millions of UK households forced to unplug fridge to cope with rising bills

10:31 18.11.2023 •

An increasing amount of families cannot afford to keep fresh ingredients due to the rising bills
Photo: Shutterstock

Families resorting to ‘desperate measures’ and struggling with ‘frightening’ level of hardship amid cost of living crisis, writes ‘The Guardian’.

About 2m UK households have been forced to turn off their fridge or freezer to save money as they continue to struggle with what poverty campaigners called a “frightening” level of hardship.

Nearly half of those households said that since May they had to disconnect their fridge or freezer for the first time, a sign the cost of living crisis was still hurting low-income families, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) charity.

Millions of families were still resorting to “desperate measures” to cope with rising bills and prices, it said, with four out of five households on universal credit also going without food, turning off the heating, and not replacing worn-out clothing.

The JRF’s latest cost of living crisis tracker survey found that in October a quarter (2.8m) of UK low-income households ran up debt to pay for food, a third sold belongings to raise cash, and one in six had used community “warm rooms”.

The findings come amid concerns among poverty charities that ministers are looking to reduce financial help for low income families at next week’s autumn statement by cutting benefits and winding down cost of living support payments.

The JRF said that although the government had allocated more than £12bn in targeted cost of living support, and inflation has begun to fall, 7.3m households had gone without food and other essentials in the last six months, suggesting the crisis was far from over.

“Millions of families unplugging their fridges and freezers is the latest chapter in a long-running story of hardship. People risk becoming sick from eating spoiled food and going without healthy, fresh food. This risks lasting harm to the health of millions,” said Peter Matejic, chief analyst at the JRF.

He added: “It’s unconscionable that the government is reportedly considering cutting struggling families’ benefits to fund tax cuts. In the upcoming autumn statement benefits must be increased in line with inflation and local housing allowance must be unfrozen to support private renters with their housing costs.”

Low income groups most likely to be going without essentials are those dependent on universal credit; black, Asian and mixed ethnicity households; families with a disabled member and families with children, said the JRF.


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