Single mother heats baby's milk at GP surgery due to cost of living crisis

Asian female giving milk to her baby
The head of Citizens Advice said a single mother is heating her baby's milk in a GP surgery to save money. (Getty)

A single mother has been forced to heat her baby's milk at a GP surgery as the UK continues to grapple with its cost of living crisis.

The woman's situation was described by the head of Citizens Advice during a radio interview on Tuesday.

Dame Clare Moriarty, the group's chief executive, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the case.

She said the single mother has been "cut off from gas and electricity" and is having to take “her baby’s milk to the GP’s surgery to warm it up”.

It comes as the government is under increasing pressure to commit to raising benefits in line with inflation.

Prime minister Liz Truss, already under fire after she and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng made a humiliating U-turn on their plan to scrap the 45p top tax rate, has refused to rule out cuts to benefits.

Dame Clare said the impact of not raising benefits in line with inflation, which is currently just below 10%, would be felt by many Britons.

Watch: Liz Truss says no decision made yet on cutting benefits

“We are already seeing a huge crisis among the people who are coming to us for help," she said.

"In September, we referred more people than ever before to food banks and we’ve seen a really steep rise in the number of people who can’t top up their pre-payment meters.

“These are real people, like the woman who came to us recently, a single mum who was cut off from gas and electricity, she’d fallen behind on bills after she separated from her partner, she’d been pushed onto a pre-payment meter, she couldn’t top it up.

“She’s now having to resort to taking her baby’s milk to the GP’s surgery to warm it up, sitting in her dad’s car to keep warm and to charge her phone.”

Dame Clare said the difference between uprating benefits by 5% and 10% would be "huge" for many people.

"People are really struggling at the moment," she said.

"The energy package is very welcome but it doesn’t do anything for the problems that are already there, it is going to get worse over winter.

Read more: Top tips to save on online shopping during cost of living crisis

Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng during a visit to a construction site for a medical innovation campus in Birmingham, on day three of the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Picture date: Tuesday October 4, 2022.
Prime minister Liz Truss and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have been criticised for their handling of the country's finances. (PA)

"We’ve heard both the chancellor and the prime minister say they are on the side of people who need the help most, these are the people who need the help most.

"At the moment, we’re not hearing anything about support to help people get through the winter, and we’re hearing the suggestion that benefits might not even rise in line with inflation.”

On Tuesday, Truss refused to say whether welfare payments will be increased in line with soaring inflation.

Critics within her own party who helped force the U-turn over the plan to abolish the 45p tax rate for top earners are now stepping up pressure to ensure benefits will be raised with inflation, a pledge made by her predecessor, Boris Johnson.

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt has publicly backed increasing benefits in line with inflation so that people can pay their bills, warning many Tory colleagues have backed that before.

During a visit to a construction site in Birmingham, close to where the Tory party is hosting its annual conference, Truss said: “On the subject of benefits, we have not yet made that decision.

“Of course, there will be discussions about the way forward on commitments like benefits.

“I’m very clear that going into this winter we do need to help the most vulnerable.

Read more: Christmas shoppers expected to spend £4.4bn less this year

Wide angle image depicting a senior man's hand holding an energy bill while the other hand checks the numbers on a calculator. The table is strewn with documents and also a laptop. Room for copy space.
Rising energy bills have helped contribute to a cost of living crisis in the UK. (Getty)

“In addition to the energy price guarantee, we’ve also made sure the most vulnerable households have an extra £1,200 and this government will always help people get on in life, whilst making sure the most vulnerable are protected.”

Benefits are usually uprated in line with the consumer price index (CPI) rate of inflation from September, with the rise coming into effect the following April.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that each percentage point rise in CPI adds £1.6bn to welfare spending.

Mordaunt, who ran against Truss in the Tory leadership contest in the summer, said it “makes sense” to increase benefits in line with inflation.

She told Times Radio: “I’ve always supported, whether it’s pensions, whether it’s our welfare system, keeping pace with inflation. It makes sense to do so. That’s what I voted for before and so have a lot of my colleagues.

“We want to make sure that people are looked after and that people can pay their bills. We are not about trying to help people with one hand and take away with another.”

On Monday, data compiled by independent think tank the Resolution Foundation showed that, even with retaining the 45p higher tax rate, the richest 5% of British households are still set to gain £3,500 on average next year, almost 40 times more than the £90 cash gain for the poorest households.

Watch: Government says it is focused on the most vulnerable