Calderdale parents skipping meals so their children eat as cost of living soars

The growing cost of living crisis is leaving some Calderdale families sleeping in one room together and parents skipping meals to ensure their children are fed.

By sarah fitton
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 10:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 10:32 am
People across the borough are already feeling the pressure on their income.
People across the borough are already feeling the pressure on their income.

Many people across the borough will be feeling the squeeze, says Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Calderdale, Caroline Jones, of rising energy prices and surging inflation.

With gas and electricity costs expected to go up again in April and an increase in National Insurance at around the same time, she expects the situation to get even worse, particularly for people on the lowest incomes.

Many of those are still recovering from the cut to Universal Credit in October.

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The organisation has emergency food vouchers it can hand out to struggling residents. “We were issuing two of those a month,” said Caroline. “Now it’s two a week and we’ve had to go up from £10 to £20.

“We’re referring people to food banks at a higher rate than in the past.”

She said families are squeezing into one room at night in order to keep warm and, unable to afford food for the whole family, parents are going without to make sure their children eat.

Citizens Advice Calderdale is calling for the Government to raise benefits in line with inflation and is offering as much as help as it can, with free, impartial and non-judgemental advice on everything from energy bills to debt management.

Estimates range, but some believe the energy prices cap could be raised to around £2,000 for the average household, from £1,277 today.

Some energy companies have suggested that if the Government got banks to lend between £10bn to £20bn to energy companies, firms could instead charge customers over several years to recoup the cost.

Research from the Yorkshire-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows, nationally, some households will be spending more than half of their income on energy bills come Spring. .

Their study has shown that households on low incomes will be spending about 18 per cent of their income, after housing costs, on energy bills after April when the energy price cap is revised.

For single adult households on low incomes, the figure rises to 54 per cent - an increase of 21 percentage points since 2019/20.

West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership is investing £1millon in increasing low-income households’ energy efficiency rating, giving advice on reducing energy bills, and helping people access additional support.

The Government has made £1.8m available to Calderdale Council to hand out to struggling families this winter.