My plans for this winter are literally probably just to heat the only like during the day, just to heat the room I'm in using a fan heater. Then once my daughter comes home from school in the evening, just to put the heating on for a few hours, I normally have the heating on for an hour, then it's off for an hour or two and then it's back on. It going for an hour. And that's how I sort of keep it going until we go to bed. Just to limit the amount of gas that we use. We're on a prepayment meter and the costs are ridiculous and all that. Most of the time we run in and off the emergency credit. You put money on the meter to pay off the emergency and it just takes for the emergency and the debt, you just end up in this big circle of constantly running on the emergency gas. So, yeah, I'm just going to hopefully get through this winter by using an electric fan heater as and when.
This means that there would be a high risk of getting into debt, reviewing your grocery shopping list to ensure that we don't buy what we can survive without, more second hand clothes/shoes shopping. No money to do fun things (ice cream, cinema, etc).
It will bring serious and multiple issues if benefit rates don't increase next April. We have already been rationing since early 2022. We are still no better off for doing so.
Every household bill has increased beyond a reasonable rate, not just energy bills.
I was forced to replace my vehicle this summer. Paying for it, insuring and taxing it has taken a bigger dent out of my bank balance than anyone on a low income would like.
The money in my bank account is literally the only source of money I have to my name, no pension to think about, no savings to speak of.
This wasn't the way I ever imagined I would be living my life at my age, trying to raise a family single handedly all these years has been incredibly difficult on every level.
It's a depressing prospect. I'm not sure how much more of this cost of living crisis we can take. It's embarrassing to ask for charity, we aren't in debt yet, but that could change overnight at this rate.
I already have an empty fridge freezer. I can't face buying a trolly full of food that will end up going off and in the bin because I forgot to freeze it or our appetites change over the course of the week, or I'm unwell and can't manage to cook or eat anything.
I live with the dread of the landlord selling up or increasing our rent. It's a constant worry.
Nobody can be certain whether there will be funding to help with winter fuel costs, I'm already disgusted by the mould growth on our belongings since we moved here 18 months ago, because the house is difficult to heat aside from rationing the heating bills. I can see us still trying to claw our way out of the shortage in our budget after Christmas.
As it currently is, I've never felt so skint as this, in years.
I'd have to stop his swimming lessons, and carry on buying reduced foods and freezing them. I'd probably end up falling in debt as I might end up having to choose paying a bill over food, I know it's coming.
I have been enjoying the warm weather recently, despite complaining that I could not afford an ice cream, but now the temperature has dropped its reminded me that the long cold winter months are fast approaching. Some people seem to be thinking the cost of living crisis is over but for millions of families it's certainly not. There will be no warm home for myself and my daughter again this year, as there is simply no way I can afford the cost of heating while living on legacy benefits alone. In supermarkets the price of food is still high and package sizes are also dropping. I mainly survive on food that does not require cooking now as I am constantly having to make cutbacks wherever possible to avoid ending up in dept. Legacy benefits do not increase with other benefits so every year and every price increase is putting more strain on the money we do receive to survive on.
I don't think it is over. Very little has been done to support people through that. Salaries are still the same. Prices for essentials have gone up. More people are in debt.
Not even started to become over – how on earth are people saying that it is? If anything, for me, it's getting harder. I am trying to find a new place to live because my landlord is selling and like half of my town we're struggling. I don't earn or know anyone who earns 35x the rent!
Food is still massively over priced and still not able to buy a decent amount, just barely scraping by. Energy may have gone down but is still going to be extremely hard after the snow starts to come and its causing anxiety and panic, clothes are still so expensive that school uniform is still being brought due to how expensive it is and the fact we don't have enough to get it because we have no help.
Bills are still rising and debts still are outstanding for everyone I know! It's nowhere near over, if anything, it's got a small bit worse because not enough help has been given in the first place, and if the media is saying it's over then there's no way we will be ok. Inflation may be dropping but interest rates are still constantly going up and up, yet benefits are going down or being made harder to acquire when in need. We're all still skipping meals and going without so how is it over? The media should be ashamed and the government need to help not slip it under the rug.
Money has always been hard. My husband has a gambling issue which started a few years ago and I didn’t know he didn’t pay the bills and blew 2 wages! It nearly destroyed us. And to this day still repaying back. It’s a struggle. Everything costs so much as it is and when I’m trying to pay something back they want a large amount that I just can’t do. I completely understand why people choose to ignore debts at times, as it feels you have no choice.
He still goes off the rails at times but luckily not as bad as it used to be. They say there is all this help out there but, for me, I’m not a confident person on the phone and I can’t understand what’s said to me. But pretty much everything you have to do over the phone. There needs to be other ways of doing these things for people that have anxiety issues.
It's been a while since I've added another entry to my diary.
I'm too scared to check my bank balance these days. It takes real courage to face up to your finances when there's not enough to cover costs. It's easier to be ignorant in the hope it will all sort itself out on its own.
I've been unable to sleep ... I gave up trying to & have made a cuppa. The early morning stillness is just as restfully so I can think more clearly which has allowed me to reflect on the past few months. I've been so preoccupied during that time.
In July I eventually received the dreaded dwp envelope with instructions to complete another assessment form.
It's a much shorter form this time. Still I'm not attempting to fill it in myself no matter how knowledgeable I've become regarding these processes. Following a recommendation from my MP, I called the professionals in to help me with it. The appointment date to see someone was well after the return date for the form so I immediately needed to call up the dwp to request a return extension.
To begin with it was ridiculous that the form had a date which showed it took 2 weeks in the post to receive it which left me 2 weeks to return the darn thing ordinarily.
At least on this occasion I was ready to go to all out war with them if I wasn't given what I'm perfectly entitled to. Once the call handler told me I could have the usual 2 week extension I immediately informed her I couldn't even get an appointment to have help completing it until well after that date. She then told me she needed to speak to a manager & as quick as that she came back with a date to return the form some 6 weeks later.. Technically I've had about 2 months grace to complete & return it, which is incredibly long. Although I guess it's due to the fact that in some parts of the country the dwp have backlogs of work to process. In some regions people are waiting 12 to 18 months for their applications to even go through before further assessment.
This form, has meant I have had to dig long & deep into my mountains of medical records, past applications, new medical information about my health conditions, etc., in order to evidence proof & facts. Not simply a case of "innocent until proven guilty" more "guilty of fraud until proven otherwise".
Alongside all the effort to get my medical notes in order ready for scrutiny by the dwp - who are by no means medical experts, for if they had all the answers about my condition they'd be earning millions in medical research sharing their findings, not working as civil servants, (medical assessors earn £46,000 p/a alone, possibly before bonuses), we also had to hide from the bailiffs who turned up at my door for my middle son. So that wasn't very pleasant.
He uses the house as a care of address but hasn't made that clear to his creditors. So my youngest & I have been virtually like prisoners in our home until he eventually called up a debt helpline. (Only after nagging him to do so for months on end.)
After seeking advice on the issue myself, I only need to show any bailiffs a council tax bill - to prove he has never lived here - through a window rather than opening a door to them. I've found out bailiffs are supposed to exercise more understanding to vulnerable people. Nevertheless I still remain weary of unexpected visitors ready to point out the facts as they are.
Also I was in a dilemma with my car last month. It needed major repairs. It had to go. I had to look for another used car. Amazing that I found something suitable & managed to sell the old car too. This took a big chunk of my money to fund the change over. Still trying to recoup the costs. It will take a while for that to happen, obviously.
About the same time I also received a parking charge notice. Forgot to display my blue badge in a disabled parking bay. I was horrified. I immediately panicked & sent in my appeal to the agents ... which got knocked back. Next tried to call the landowners but no joy there either.
It was only in a casual chat with the MP's caseworker that they offered to chase it up for me & managed to get the charge dropped! I was over the moon. Could well do without paying £60 - £100 in fines! Told the case worker that's easily 2 weeks shopping!!
With all these things going on weighing heavy on my mind as well as family issues to help out with, it feels like there's hardly been any time to enjoy the school summer holidays.
We did manage a week away in a caravan. However I was wrapped up fighting the dvla to reclaim car tax exemption for the new used vehicle I recently purchased. Along with family demands we were expected to sort out even though we were on holiday, my son & I were left feeling harrassed & upset with everything that went on during the week.
So much so my son has recently suffered nightmares about another ongoing issue we face. We've been trying to find suitable alternative accommodation with social housing. Decent homes are few & far between.
This summer has felt like our worst year by far. As much as there is to be grateful for, there's equally as much I'd rather forget or not have to deal with.
I hope we can try to enjoy what time is still left before the return to school in a few weeks but given the friction between my immediate family, it's not likely to be easy going over a bank holiday weekend unless we hide or switch off the phone.
I am looking forward to going back to work and for Christmas. I am looking to try and pay off my debts and face my fears.
My future planning is very bleak, really. I've been in debt for more than 25 years, getting deeper every year. There's no realistic chance of me escaping that, I will die in debt. Statistics are pretty clear that my expected lifespan, as a woman living in poverty, is dropping. I don't save, firstly because I can't afford to, and secondly because having savings is never a guarantee they'll actually be safe, and because they might affect a future benefit claim. I have a BR pension from when I worked for the railway for 5 years, I intend to take that money out, as cash, soon as permitted. All I can leave my kids is firm instructions to tell any bailiffs that there are multiple debtors, and that I owned nothing of any value.
I can't plan anything going forward. I can't even plan to make ends meet in the current month I'm in. So I just can't see a future. I don't know what it's going to bring. Just more debt. More of the same.