'I have to choose food over heat' - Mum forced to ration heating and outings amid rising costs

A mum from Somerset is hopeful changes to childcare free hours in the Budget announcement will help her and her family.

Pia Wade, who lives in Langport, returns from maternity leave soon, after the birth of her seven-month-old baby Louie last summer.

With six-year-old daughter Lily at school and needing after school care, she says it is going to be expensive: "When I go back to work in May I think it’s going to cost about £50 a day for Louie to be in childcare and about £10 a day for Lily’s wraparound care," she said.

"You get the bill and I think: ‘oh gosh!’ How are you going to pay it, how you are going to pay for the house, how are you going to pay for the childcare? It is a worrying time."

Lily’s recent birthday being one of only two days out Pia can afford a year. She said: "That came close to £50/£60 by the time you’ve driven there, driven back, got food, drinks."

Pia says her shopping bill for her family has risen from £40 every other week to £60 a week Credit: Family photograph

The savings she makes are, at the moment, simply swallowed up by bills. Pia keeps energy use to a minimum, with a strict ration on the heating, in particular.

She said: "Generally we only have it on nine hours a week because it’s already £144 a month. Considering 12 months ago it was only £86 a month - that was fine, that was dandy, I didn’t have to think about it because that was ok. We could have the heating on a lot more and if I left the switch on I wouldn’t panic about that too much.

"I have to choose food over heat. We’ve got a vegetable curry on in the slow cooker today for tonight just so they can have some vegetables, because we’ve had meat yesterday. It’s a lot cheaper way to cook."

Pia has to be organised to keep the family fed - spending ages every week shopping around to find the best prices. Despite that, her food bills have still soared.

She said: "I used to only spend about £40 every two weeks and now I’m spending £60 a week."

This family is one that is doing all it can to get by each month and one that hopes the announcements in today’s budget will go some way to easing the strain long-term.

Pia said: "Hopefully in the future it won’t be like this. I think about it a lot in the night - the worry, mainly, of how we’re going to survive. But we’ve just got to stay positive."