The heatwave lulled us into a false sense of security, that became abundantly clear this weekend. With energy prices soaring for April 1st and the promise of Spring on the horizon, many chose to turn off their heating permanently for the spring/summer season last week, hoping they could manage the brisk British nights for a few weeks. Except they’re not brisk, they’re absolutely freezing.
Over the weekend, temperatures in London reached lows of -3 degrees, the rest of the UK following similar suit. Countless people shared their indignance to warm their houses, terrified of the cost that would ensue, but the cost to themselves was high too.
‘It is just suffering,’ Pam Little, 60, a part-time dinner lady from Nottingham told Nottinghamshire Live. ‘I am one of those people who have to choose between eating and heating – and I am a diabetic. 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.’
I sit in my house with three layers on and I’m trying to make food last as long as possible.
Amy*, 29 from London, says everyone she knows is terrified of the cost-of-living crisis. ‘I live with a flatmate and we both decided we won’t put the heating on now for good. I don’t know anyone who’s not doing that, everyone is too scared to see that bill come through next month even though we’re all freezing. I sit in my house with three layers on and I’m trying to make food last as long as possible.
‘We’re all going to get ill at this rate, and then what?’ Amy continues. ‘We miss work and money woes pile up all while the NHS is put under further pressure because vulnerable people and children are getting sick more frequently. It’s the last thing the public need after Covid.’
This weekend, one caller on James O’Brien’s LBC radio show went viral after breaking down during a heart-breaking interview about the effect on her family and how broken the system is.
Ultimately, her testimony proves that for all the government promises, all the money advice and all the charity, there is no easy way out for the millions affected by this crisis. It’s a colossal scandal that will forever stain British history when we see it’s true impact come to fruition: sickness, death and absolute poverty for countless people.
‘We are going to have to put money into the system or we are going to have an absolute poverty crisis, with people being unable to eat or dying because of the cold,’ Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert, told the BBC last week. ‘We absolutely know that we need a substantial increase in the billions of pounds of funding to vulnerable people and people on low incomes or it is no exaggeration to say some will have to choose between heating and eating, and that is not appropriate in one of the world’s richest economies and a civilised nation.’