Cost of living crisis: 16m cutting back on food, ONS data shows

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Waitrose is removing best before dates on nearly 500 fresh food products (PA) (PA Archive)
Waitrose is removing best before dates on nearly 500 fresh food products (PA) (PA Archive)

Sixteen million people in Britain have been forced to cut back on food and other essentials because of the rising cost of living, a survey revealed on Friday.

Some 24 million people also reduced energy use in their homes between March and June 2022 as the price of gas and electricity reached record highs.

The findings from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show nine in 10 people noticed a rise in basic costs, reducing their capacity to save.

More than 90 per cent of people saw their food shop costs increase, while gas or electricity bills had gone up for 82 per cent and 77 per cent were hit by thejump in fuel prices.

MP Christine Jardine, the Lib-Dem Cabinet Office spokeswoman, said that the Government must offer something “meaningful to people who are struggling to feed their families or heat their homes”.

She added: “There must be an emergency VAT cut to help people right now, or else the poorest and most vulnerable in society will continue to suffer.”

Data from ONS found elderly people and those with disabilities were the most likely to be actively reducing their energy consumption to avoid sky-rocketing bills.

More than half (55 per cent) of people with disabilities who were experiencing an increase in their cost of living reported cutting back, compared with half of able-bodied people.

Londoners appeared less likely than those in other regions to be reducing their energy use with 41 per cent reporting this change, compared with 51 per cent overall.

ONS said this is likely because “the age profile of London is younger than the rest of Britain, with the average age of Londoners almost five years below the UK average. It comes after families were warned by the energy watchdog Ofgem of a “very challenging winter ahead”.

The energy price cap is forecast to rise to an average of £3,359 per year from October and then again to £3,616 in the new year. By the end of 2023 many average households can expect to be paying almost £4,000 a year for their gas and electricity bills without government intervention, market analysts have warned.

It comes as Tory leadership contender Liz Truss acknowledged there will be a "tough winter" ahead but said there is a need to move away from the "business-as-usual" policies to help "reform the economy".

The Foreign Secretary, speaking during a visit to meet key investors in the City of London, said: "The reality is we're facing a recession if we carry on with our business-as-usual policies.

"People are struggling - whether it's to pay food bills or fuel bills - that's why it's very important we reverse the national insurance increase, we have a temporary moratorium on the green energy levy to help people with their fuel bills.

"The most important thing is getting the economy going so we avoid a recession and the business-as-usual policies aren't working, we need to do more, and that's why I am determined to reform the economy and keep taxes low."

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