Households in Plymouth are under further financial pressure as the inflation rate hits a 30-year high of 7 per cent. Families in the city are already grappling with soaring fuel and energy prices and it now appears that the prices of basic commodities, including milk and cooking oil, have also risen.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said consumer price index (CPI) inflation rose to 7% in March from 6.2% in February. – the highest point since March 1992, when inflation was 7.1%. The rise was higher than the 6.7% expected by analysts and was driven by fuel, restaurant and food prices, dealing a further blow to the cost of living for households in Plymouth and across the country.
The price of bread rose 2.3% in March and is now 5.5% more expensive than a year ago, the ONS said. The price of lamb rose 1.7% in the month leading up to the Easter family meal. Lamb eaten this weekend will cost around 16% more than at Easter 2021. Pork increased by 2.9% between February and March, and butter by 5.1%.
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Petrol at 160.2p a liter on average in March and diesel at 170.5p, were both at record prices. The price of clothing and footwear rose 9.8% year on year in March, furniture, household equipment and maintenance jumped 10.3% while food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 5.9%.
The data also shows that the price of edible oils and fats rose 7.2% in March alone, adding to a rise of more than 18% last year. Ukraine is the world’s largest supplier of sunflower oil and Russia is the world’s second largest supplier. World prices were therefore affected by the war.
March inflation does not take into account the average 54% hike in energy bills that was applied to around 22 million homes two weeks ago. The Bank of England has predicted that inflation could peak at around 8% in April, given the new energy prices.
Just last week, Citizens Advice Plymouth revealed that the number of city dwellers seeking urgent help to pay their bills and feed their families has led to a surge in requests for energy debt crisis assistance and good for food banks. Calls for fuel debt advice have increased by 78 per cent, meaning a quarter of all people contacting Citizens Advice Plymouth are now struggling to pay their energy bills.
A spokesperson for the charity said calls were coming from people who had never been in debt on their energy bills before but are now worried about how they will cope with the rise prices. And Citizens Advice Plymouth said the number of requests for food bank vouchers almost doubled in February and March.
The charity said more people were at the ‘point of crisis’ and asking for supermarket vouchers and donations of essential white goods – and even school uniforms. Citizens Advice Plymouth said the increased energy price cap, which adds an average of £700 to household gas and electricity bills from April, means many residents of Plymoth now have to choose “between heating their house or putting a hot meal on the table for their children”. .
The charity said while the situation may be difficult for many people, there are things they can do. He produced this list of seven tips for people worried about how they will cope with the rising cost of living.
1 Check if you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled. It is important that you maximize your budget. Use this benefit calculator to check if you are receiving all the benefits you may be entitled to here.
2 Seeking grants for white goods and energy efficiency improvements. There are many programs that could help you in an emergency and make your home more energy efficient. The Plymouth Energy Community or Center for Sustainable Energy can help you reduce your energy bills by giving energy efficiency advice or offering grants for the cost of a new boiler, cooling system heating or insulation, for example.
Contact your creditors as soon as you know you are unable to pay your bills. Let your creditors know you can’t pay because they may be able to help you. Missed payments can lead to additional charges, damage to your credit score, or the involvement of debt collectors. For example, some energy providers may provide additional assistance and make recommendations for financial assistance. Learn more about getting additional support from energy providers here.
4 If you have overpaid tax credits, consider calling the tax credits hotline. If you find the refunds high, ask for them to be reduced. Explain your situation and that you are struggling to meet your current expenses.
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5 Be careful when looking for debt advice online. Some online debt advice providers may offer you debt solutions that are not suitable for you, such as IVAs (individual voluntary agreements). If you are struggling to pay your IVA or other debt repayments, contact us to explore your options.
6 Avoid using payday loans or loan sharks. Having instant cash is great, but it often comes with high interest. If your bank offers overdrafts, be sure to stay within your limit. An “unauthorized” overdraft can result in interest of 19% to 40% or more.
7 Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Don’t wait for the bills to pile up, get help as soon as possible. Doing nothing will only make things worse. If you don’t have enough to live on, you may be able to get help with food parcels, housing, or fuel costs. Contact Citizens Advice to explore options here.
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