Survey shows bills have soared by £150 a month for many people

An East Anglian Daily Times survey has revealed the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on people in Suffolk.

An East Anglian Daily Times survey has revealed the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on people in Suffolk. - Credit: ARCHANT

A survey commissioned by this newspaper has revealed the stark reality of how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting people in Suffolk and Essex.

And charity leaders say the repercussions of the crisis will continue to be felt long into the future.

The poll received more than 600 responses from this newspaper's readers.

It found:

  • Almost 40% of people have seen their bills go up by over £150 per month;
  • Around one in 10 of respondents have had to turn to foodbanks;
  • One in three people in the county will not take a holiday this year due to the crisis;
  • Nearly 80% of people in the county feel worse off than they did this time last year.

Tim Holder, head of public affairs at the Suffolk Community Foundation, said: "The figures from this survey really only scratch the surface of the complex ways in which the current economic climate will negatively impact people’s lives here in Suffolk.

"As the cost of living continues to rise, those already struggling will fall deeper into trouble. Even before this current crisis, more than one in ten of our local population was living in deprivation.

Tim Holder Suffolk Community Foundation PHOTO Sylvaine Poitau

Tim Holder Suffolk Community Foundation - Credit: Sylvaine Poitau

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"Many thousands more will now also be forced to make impossible choices between feeding themselves, keeping a roof over their heads and paying their bills. 

"As hardship continues there is a serious knock-on effect to people’s physical and mental health and our communities will see serious rises in social challenges like addiction and domestic abuse."

He added: "For anyone feeling financial pressure, it’s really important to seek advice and support as early as possible.

"Ultimately this means that many more people will be looking to local charities and community groups to help them.

"Significant rises in the need for support means that charities will be relying on the continued generosity of people still in a position to offer financial support and having the time to keep up the vital levels of volunteering that are absolutely essential."

Brad Jones, editor of the EADT and Ipswich Star, said: "The survey results really show the impact that many people are already feeling from rising costs. The impact could last for years, so we must make sure the support is there for those who need it.

"Our newspapers will continue to do what they can to highlight problems and provide practical solutions to ease the burden where possible."

The East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star is asking readers how they have been affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

Food costs have risen, and around one in 10 of those who responded to our survey said they had used a foodbank - Credit: PA

What is life like for someone struggling in the county?

One woman, who this newspaper has agreed not to name, can only afford to spend £24 per month on food after she became unemployed at the beginning of the pandemic.

The woman, who is 61 and lives in a north Suffolk town, said: "I get £724 per month and after all my bills and some credit people are paid, I'm left with £24 per month for food.

"I'm eating whatever I can. I try food banks. A friend of mine works for a greengrocers wholesalers so I can get some food from her at a reduced price.

"I have a dog so £6 of that per month goes on dog food, but she keeps me company."

She lives alone, does not drive and, since she broke her hip in 2017, has struggled to sit or stand for long periods of time.

"I just feel I'm stuck in a hole at the moment," she said. "I look for work but I suppose because I'm 61 people just think: 'Oh well, she's near retirement' and won't hire me."

Before the Universal Credit uplift was cut in November she had around £100 per month to spend on food, but this has since fallen.

She said: "It doesn't go far. You don't have a social life. You're stuck indoors. I can't afford to go and meet friends and I had quite a good social life before. I can't travel anywhere, because I haven't got the money."

This newspaper has launched the Your Money Matters campaign to highlight issues around the cost of living crisis.

If you're struggling, you can speak to your local Citizens Advice centre on 0800 0683131, if you specifically want help with debts you can reach a local debt centre on 0800 3280006.