Scots will have to choose to ‘freeze or starve’ this winter, claims charity

Some families in Scotland will have to choose between freezing or starving this winter, a leading charity has said, as inflation is projected to hit more than 13%.

The Bank of England announced on Thursday the Consumer Price Index could hit 13.3% in October – the highest for more than 42 years – if the energy regulator lifts the price cap on energy bills to £3,450.

Meanwhile, the Bank also upped interest rates from 1.25% to 1.75% – the highest rate since January 2009.

These announcements, paired with Ofgem revealing that the price cap will rise every three months instead of six, has led to fears people will struggle even more than previously expected.

Derek Mitchell – the chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland -called for “radical action” from government.

“Soaring inflation means higher prices in the shops and costs on bills for people already struggling badly with the cost-of-living crisis,” he said.

“That inflation is expected to stay high for much of 2023 and the looming prospect of a recession means this crisis isn’t going anywhere, risking a legacy of debt, poverty and destitution for years and years to come.

Rates of inflation graphic
(PA Graphics)

“Some of the most vulnerable people across the UK this winter will face a choice between freezing and starving.

“That’s the reality and we should not pretend otherwise. People are likely to die this winter because of this crisis unless we see urgent and radical action from policymakers.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said that small businesses in its group could be driven out of business by the increase in interest rates.

“The last thing businesses need just now is for the Bank of England to increase the interest rate to its highest level since December 2008,” said managing director Colin Wilkinson.

“Businesses have been feeling the squeeze since the pandemic hit two-and-a-half years ago and are already grappling with paying off debts incurred during Covid.

“This could be the final straw.”

As well as changes to interest rates and the projection of inflation, the Bank also said the UK was heading for the longest recession since the 2008 financial crash.

According to projections, the economy will be pushed into a five-quarter recession – with gross domestic product (GDP) falling in each quarter of 2023.

The recession is, however, predicted to be shallower than in 2008, with GDP dropping up to 2.1% from its highest point, with the depth more comparable, Bank officials said, to the recession of the early 1990s.