Hard-up single mum forced to choose between heating and flushing the toilet
A single mum has been forced make some unthinkable decisions after she was left to pick between heating her home and flushing the toilet.
Gemma Widdowfield claims her monthly gas and electric bills have doubled - and that has left her trying to save every penny possible.
The 36-year-old says she now worries about the financial implications of simple tasks, like boiling the kettle.
The cost of living rose by 5.4% in the 12 months to December, officials figures released on Wednesday show - the fastest pace for 30 years.
Household finances are being squeezed across the country as gas and electricity tariffs have also seen staggering rises, with the Bank of England forecasting inflation to hit 6% in April.
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Along with millions of people, the mum's Universal Credit payments were cut by £20 per week last October.
After losing the equivalent of over £1,000 a year because of the benefit slash, she says she has been forced to make some 'impossible' decisions.
Mrs Widdowfield, who cares for daughter Poppy, three, says must make big sacrifices to make sure she doesn't return to a cold home.
Now she is pleading with the government to reinstate the £20 uplift, brought in to help people during the pandemic.
The council worker told the Metro : "I want the government to consider what it must feel like to have to keep the heating turned off on the coldest days of the year, or to limit the number of times you flush the toilet in order to save water.
"I wear a thermal hat and lots of layers as I can’t warrant turning the heating on just for myself - I keep the heating off during the day so that I can afford to put it on for a bit when my three-year-old daughter gets home from nursery as I can’t bear the thought of her being cold at home.
"This slash to incomes came at the worst possible time. that £20 a week was a lifeline that paid for my daughter’s packed lunches and her food for the week."
The rate of Consumer Price Index inflation, which measures the average cost of goods, increased from 5.1% in November to 5.4% in December, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday.
Food prices again grew strongly, while increases in furniture and clothing also pushed up annual inflation.
Finance expert Ed Monk, at Fidelity International, said: “With inflation now at its highest level in almost 30 years, many households simply won’t have experienced price rises at this level before.
"With wage data yesterday showing pay rising at just 3.5%, families are getting poorer in real terms and the situation could last for some time."
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