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Choice between ‘starving or freezing’ in 1 of Nottingham’s most deprived areas

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People living in one of the most deprived areas of Nottingham say now have to choose between ‘starving or being cold’ because of rising living costs. Millions of households are facing paying hundreds more each year in energy bills, council tax, water costs and other utilities.

In February, the energy regulator Ofgem announced that the domestic energy price cap would increase from £1,277 per year to £1,971 – a 54 percent increase.

The energy price cap increased on April 1, and the hike is expected to add an extra £700 to the average household’s annual gas and energy bills. Covid restrictions have been scrapped – but in the current context the country is navigating through the effects of Brexit and facing the impact of the Russian invasion.

READ MORE: Anger in Nottingham area where most Universal Credit claimants hit by £62 ‘poverty tax’ deduction

All these factors have had a drastic impact on living costs, including fuel prices. The situation’s led to warnings that people on lower incomes will be forced to choose between paying for heating or food. And for people in Bulwell this is exactly the case.

Nottingham North, which includes Bilborough, Bulwell and Top Valley, was previously ranked in the top 10 most deprived regions in the entire country. And people in Bulwell have spoken of the stark realities they face.

Pam Little, a part-time dinner lady who lives in the town, said: “It is just suffering. I am one of those people who have to choose between eating and heating – and I am a diabetic.” The 60-year-old said she was concerned for her future.

“My bills are around £300 at the moment and, with the new increase, this means that I will be asked to pay somewhere around £600. I do not know where I will get that money from. I cannot even afford to stock up food, I just simply cannot.”

She went on and said: “Luckily, I do not have to pay for medication, I have got that covered. I could not afford getting my medication otherwise. The people in power do not think about us.”

Shanika Bernard, a mum-of-two from Bestwood, said that, like any other parent, she always made sure her children were fed as a priority.However, in the current context, it is getting harder to put food on the table.

“It is heartbreaking,” she said. “Sometimes you have to choose between starving or being cold. We rely on those school meal vouchers. I am embarrassed to ask for them but it is what it is.”

The 29-year-old explained she tried to stock up when she can. She added: “I also get items from the reduced section and chuck them in the freezer so they last longer. Sometimes I do it for chicken, too. As a mum I always make sure that I can feed my children then see if I can eat too.”

Other people rely on foodbanks. Kerrence Gorewoda used to be homeless until two days ago. He’s just moved into a shared house in Bulwell. The 62-year-old said he’d lost four homeless friends on the street in the last year.

And Mr Gorewoda fears that could have been him if he did not find a place in the end. “I was very lucky. Sleeping on a bench for six months in the freezing cold is not easy.”

Mr Gorewoda explained he cannot work, was in receipt of benefit support payments and reliant on foodbanks. He added: “I get £50 a week. That is not nearly enough. I would not be able to eat if there were not foodbanks.”

He was standing in the Bulwell town centre, looking at the shoppers passing by. “I would like to go and buy a coffee, you know. But I cannot afford to spend £3 on coffee.

“If something will not change, people will end up on streets having lost everything. It is not that hard to become homeless. I once had my own business and a big house.

“I lost everything in 1997, when we were hit by an economic crisis. I lost my wife and children, and ended up with no money. I am just scared that the history will repeat itself this time, too.”

Alex Norris, Labour MP for Nottingham North, said: “The cost of living crisis is hitting people across our community – whether that’s their energy bills, petrol prices or the every day essentials. The action from the Government is not enough. We should levy a windfall tax on the profits of oil companies who are making unprecedented profits to offset bill increases. We should also stop the national insurance rise.

“In the meantime it is vital that people engage with services such as welfare rights, the citizens advice bureau or their local representatives to make sure they are getting as much support as possible.”

In a statement, Nottingham City Council leader David Mellensaid: “Nobody in Nottingham should have to choose between heating and eating. We need sustainable solutions which give people opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty and keep pace with the rising cost of living.

“The Government have recently given some temporary funding to help with household finances, such as the Household Support Grant and the energy rebate, but more must be done to address financial inequality in the UK.

“To make sure you’re in the best possible position to cope, our friendly Welfare Rights team can support you with issues like debt, eviction, and help you to make sure you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to. They can give advice and help you to come up with a plan.”

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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