Food banks' fears for Shropshire families in crisis

Residents in Shropshire cold be plunged into crisis as they face £500-a-month energy bills, says a group representing food banks in the county.

Food bank usage has reached record levels in the county
Food bank usage has reached record levels in the county

Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance has called for more Government support for struggling families amid reports from utilities consultancy the BFY Group that an average household energy bill could hit £500 for next January alone.

It comes as the government has released details of how households will receive £400 worth of help towards energy bills this autumn.

The BFY Group said it believes the cap on bills will hit £3,850 between January and April next year – hundreds of pounds more than prior predictions, as the cost of living crisis continues to squeeze.

Sophie Padgett, of Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance, said food bank usage has already reached record levels in the county, and that if the rise follows predictions it will push already struggling households over the edge.

The group, which represents food banks and charities across the county, has also urged people concerned about the impact to come forward and find help as soon as possible.

Ms Padgett said: “Even with the best budgeting skills in the world, the bottom line is that for many, many households their income simply cannot stretch to meet these huge increases in everyday costs.

“We are no longer talking about making choices between heating and eating – without more emergency Government intervention many people will not be able to afford either this winter.”

She added: “We are extremely concerned that energy bills look set to rise to nearly £4,000 a year for a typical household.

“The rural nature of Shropshire is also presenting additional challenges as many already have to spend more on fuel to travel to work, essential shops and services.

“Many homes are also off the mains gas grid and there is currently no government regulation for LPG or heating oil.

“Food bank demand is already at a record high in the county, with many reporting reduced donations and having to dip into reserves.

“It is worth noting that food bank use is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of people who are struggling; we know that people only turn to them when they have exhausted most other options.”

Ms Padget said: “For people out there who are worrying about their finances we want them to know that they are not alone and that there is local support available.

“You can find out more about the support available by using the Shropshire ‘Worrying About Money?’ leaflet, visiting the Shropshire Larder or Shropshire Council’s new Cost Of Living Help webpage.”

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