Many of us will be feeling the pinch this Christmas, furlough has ended, the £20 Universal Credit uplift has been scrapped and we’re facing a cost of living crisis.
This financial hardship is going to make it a difficult Christmas, which was all but cancelled last year due to the pandemic, as we feel the pressure to make this one extra special. With nearly five million people receiving benefits in the UK, and many of those in employment, many households are just about making ends meet.
The cost of Christmas can be hard to contend with, as many of our favourite festive items like children’s toys, turkeys and seasonal vegetables are becoming dearer. Rising food prices means that the average household weekly grocery shop now costs £7.60 more than last year and more people than ever are relying on foodbanks.
Martin McLoughlin who runs Bolton NICE has a growing number of people coming to his foodbank in despair.
If that wasn’t bad enough the winter household energy bills are going through the roof. Our home heating bills are over 20% more expensive and petrol and diesel are at record highs, almost 30% more than last year! It’s also especially challenging at the moment because there's not that many good fuel deals to be had, but if you are struggling financially there are some warm homes discounts that individuals can apply for by approaching their energy provider in the first instance. Unfortunately sometimes people do face unexpected circumstances that forces them into debt, such as a job loss, vehicle breakdown or a rental increase.
In order to make your money go further this Christmas Consumer champion Kate Hardcastle stresses the importance of sticking to a budget and shopping around for the best deals.
Kate also recommends getting crafty this Christmas and perhaps making your own decorations using winter foliage or printing off some pictures to make photos albums as gifts for family members.
It’s not always easy to know where to turn for financial help and that can be especially true for elderly people that become widowed, especially if it was their belated partner who managed the household bills. Fortunately, there are many organisations that offer free guidance with any money issues, such as the government run Money and Pensions Service, they can help you find out about any benefits or discounts you may be entitled to.