Cost of living: Warning families 'are already worried about affording Christmas'

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
Sky-high costs have left parents and families wondering how they will get through the festive season
Sky-high costs have left parents and families wondering how they will get through the festive season

Struggling families may have to choose between Christmas presents or heating this winter as the cost of living crisis continues, it has been claimed.

Energy bills have soared in recent months and are predicted to increase by a further £1,300 this winter after the price cap is reviewed in October.

With families starting to consider their festive plans in the next few months, the CEO of Mumsnet warned today many will have to compromise on presents for loved ones as they're already struggling with their utility bills.

Justine Roberts told Times Radio: "A lot of people are saying they literally can't see themselves being able to afford heating this Christmas so how on earth are they going to be able to afford presents?

"People are advising that it makes sense to spend Christmas at home with their immediate family, we're not going to travel, we're not going to go anywhere where we might have to buy more people presents or use the car.

Read more: The huge issue completely missing from the leadership debate

(Times Radio)
Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts told Time Radio families are struggling with the looming costs of the festive period. (Times Radio)

"There's an awful lot of fear around what's going to happen when the cap gets removed in the Autumn, people are already struggling with not using heating, not really going out anymore.

"So Christmas generally is this huge expense. There's loads of build up especially on Mumsnet, people are preparing for it, and now all the conversation is about how they can do it more cheaply on a very, very limited budget."

Experts at Cornwall Insight said bills could rise from a current record of £1,971, to £3,245 when the price cap is reviewed in October and then rise to £3,364 in January.

Roberts said she feared Liz Truss and Rishi Sunk were not prioritising the crisis as they battle to win the race to be next prime minister.

Inflation is at its highest levels for 40 years. (Yahoo News UK)
Inflation is at its highest levels for 40 years. (Yahoo News UK)
Energy bills are soaring.(Yahoo News UK)
Energy bills are soaring. (Yahoo News UK)

"I just think there is this general overwhelming view that these candidates are arguing about how they're going to increase the exodus to Rwanda when in fact there's a massive crisis going on in people's living rooms," she said.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released on Friday show the extent to which spiralling inflation rates are impacting people’s day-to-day lives.

Watch: Aldi ups workers' pay for the second time this year as inflation bites harder in the UK

It follows economist Martin Lewis’ warning this week that the next prime minister is inheriting a country on the brink of a “national financial cataclysm”.

“The winter is going to be bleak,” said Lewis. “I believe unless action is taken we are facing a potential national financial cataclysm.” His comments came as new figures showed that in May, British workers’ living standards dropped at a record rate after pay rises failed to keep pace with inflation.

Martin Lewis with his CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for services to broadcasting and consumer rights following an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle. Picture date: Tuesday July 12, 2022.
Martin Lewis’ warned this week that the next prime minister is inheriting a country on the brink of a “national financial cataclysm”. (PA)

In an “open video letter” to the remaining candidates in the Conservative leadership contest, Lewis said the debate had ignored a worsening cost of living crisis, with energy bills set to jump in the autumn.

The ONS research found 89% of adults are seeing their general cost of living increase, compared to 62% when the organisation first asked the question in November last year.

The warnings comes as a charity warned one in three UK households could fall into fuel poverty if energy bills reach predicted highs.

National Energy Action (NEA) has predicted that, should the average bill reach £3,250 per year, 8.2 million UK households will be in fuel poverty, or one in three.

The “huge increase” in 12 months followed the average energy bill reaching £1,271 in October last year, at which point 4.5 million UK households were in fuel poverty, the charity said.

To calculate the figure, fuel poverty is defined as homes spending more than 10% of total income on energy.