A woman left with just £12.36 to last her until June 18 has said Chancellor Rishi’s Sunak’s raft of one-off payments to tackle the cost-of-living crisis is the wrong approach for people like her, calling instead for an uplift to Universal Credit.
Carole Anne Wilson, 57, was forced to retire in 2019 after being diagnosed with a series of illnesses and lives alone in Wrexham, Wales.
Asked what her response was to Mr Sunak’s package of measures, she said “There’s just not enough being done … there’s no where for me to turn.”
She receives Universal Credit but said she has been forced to skip meals as costs continued to rise in recent months and said there was nothing more she could do to reduce her spending.
“In January (2022) after all my bills I had something like £200 a month left to get food and fuel or whatever,” she said.
“Now I’ve got £12.36 left and I don’t get my money until June 18.
“I was feeding myself (in) January, February, March, and then since March my daughter’s providing me with three meals a week.
“I don’t have breakfast, I don’t have lunch. It’s gone from being able to just about support myself with what I have left, to basically having nothing.”
The £15 billion package of measures announced by the Chancellor on Thursday includes a £650 one-off payment for those on Universal Credit.
Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement, she said: “It would be more helpful rather than a one-off payment, to up Universal Credit to match that.
“It’s more manageable to get that money monthly … so you know what’s coming in and going out.”
Ms Wilson said she had hoped the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit would stay on after the pandemic, adding: “You can get quite a lot of cheap food for £20.”
She added that the government did not understand the cost-of-living crisis as “they don’t feel the pinch because they’ve got the money”.
“It’s the British people that are paying their wages…they should take cutbacks themselves; a lot of people have had to take a wage cut in order to keep working,” she said.
She has been diagnosed with several conditions including fibromyalgia and coeliac disease, which means the body cannot digest gluten – a condition which she said makes buying cheap food more difficult.
“You can get ready meals for a pound in Iceland, but it can be £2.75 for a gluten-free (meal)”, she added.
Ms Wilson said she cannot afford fresh fruit any more and relies on her local pharmacy for free bread, so she has been left eating just baked beans on toast and the three meals a week that her daughter provides.
She said she has contacted her local food bank, but most do not have food that she would be able to eat.
She said she used to leave her home by going to bingo once a week but can no longer afford this, while her parents pay her monthly phone bill.
The typical annual household energy bill is forecast to rise by more than £800 in October, according to the industry regulator Ofgem.
Ms Wilson said there was nothing further she could do to bring down her spending, and said thinking about further rises in the cost of living has impacted her mental health and even prompted suicidal thoughts.
“My anxiety has gone through the roof. I just can’t cope with the anxiety and the depression, it just gets worse and worse,” she said.
“I can’t even go anywhere because I can’t afford to travel. So I just sit in here all day now.”
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