Residents in one of England's most affluent counties 'going without laundry pods and skipping meals'

  • ITV News Central Reporter Phil Brewster spoke to people living in Rutland about how the cost of living crisis is affecting them

Some residents in one of England's most affluent counties are going without basic purchases like laundry pods to make ends meet, a new survey has found.

The county of Rutland has a reputation for being relatively affluent - but a new report from its Citizens Advice Bureau shows that the cost of living is hitting people hard.

The food bank at Oakham in Rutland said it has never been so busy, with people forgoing essentials to save mon

Dee says some people are using washing up liquid to clean their clothes to save money. Credit: ITV News Central

Dee Burton, the administrator for Rutland Food Bank, said people are forgoing essentials to save money.

"People have been in touch with us and said 'I've been washing with washing up liquid. I'm washing my clothes with washing up liquid. I can't afford to buy laundry pods and things like that,'" she said.

The tiny county of Rutland - with a population of just 40,000 - is regarded to be an affluent place. Oakham's High Street illustrates this with boutique shops, delicatessens, and cafes.

But Duncan Furey, the CEO of the local Citizens' Advice Bureau, said it's not just people at the bottom of the income scale who are getting in touch.

Duncan, from the Citizens' Advice Bureau, says rising bills are having a huge impact. Credit: ITV News Central

He said: "The people who are coming to see us are people on welfare and benefits primarily - about 50%.

"And then [we see] people who are working but may not be earning huge sums of money or people who are now struggling to meet their energy bills or rising mortgage costs.

"So we've always had an economically fragile group of the community, but that group is growing."

For many, the cost of living crisis takes a huge toll on their mental health.

The Men & Women in Sheds project was set up to tackle loneliness and isolation in the community, encouraging people to get involved in activities. Many of the people taking part are on fixed incomes, so rising prices affect them deeply - the Shed has also become a place of talking and support.

David Collins said that rising diesel prices mean people have to cut back their journeys - but adds that people will rally behind each other.

The Men and Women in Sheds project fosters community spirit and tackles loneliness. Credit: ITV News Central

"People give each other lifts, people drop each other off," he said.

"So anywhere where you can support and help I think that's part of the purpose of the group."

Troy Young, from Age UK, said: "It might take a few meetings but people find out pretty quickly that this is a really friendly pace.

"Everyone is welcome, and people do loosen up and share and I think it is hugely important rather than bottling things up."

Back at the food bank, Dee said that it can only take one "big bill" to have a drastic impact on people these days.

Rutland is widely regarded to be an affluent county. Credit: ITV News Central

She told ITV News: "They only need one big bill to come in, a car breakdown, a washing machine breakdown, something out of the ordinary that they can't budget for, and that immediately knocks them back to square one."

With high house prices, lack of social housing, poor public transport links, and a dearth of healthcare services, Rutland can be a hard place to be struggling financially.

Many worry that inflation will continue eating into people's spending power, so things could get worse before they get better.

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