Shropshire Star

Star comment: More must be done to provide greater equality in cost of living crisis

As we enter another cold snap, thousands of people will be worrying about their bills.

Bills are rising rapidly

And some, particularly those on pay-as-you-go meters, will end up struggling in the cold as their access to heat and light comes to a temporary end.

For many people, spiralling energy costs are an annoyance – an extra burden at a time when other costs are going up fast.

But for some it can literally be a case of life and death. Those on very low incomes are faced with an impossible choice. Many households are going into debt simply to heat and eat. The burden is clear on their physical and mental health.

Help must be made available for those who are most vulnerable. It is up to the benefits system and the power companies to ensure that basic functions like gas and electricity are kept available.

As a society we should also be there to keep an eye on vulnerable neighbours, especially when temperatures fall below freezing. Some simply won’t survive this winter and a civilised society should not permit such a situation.

The number falling into debt and poverty has risen in recent years. Energy companies, meanwhile, are charging sky-high prices and making windfall profits at a time when the gas wholesale price is now lower than it was before the Ukraine war began.

It is not just individuals who are struggling. Some businesses will go to the wall as they fail to afford energy bills. They are not running their businesses badly, but are victims of inequalities in the system which allow energy companies unnecessarily high profits. More should be done to provide greater balance at a time of great need.

Social media can be a force for good, though all too frequently it is harmful.

Today hair experts have dismissed the latest TikTok trend in which people are challenged not to wash their hair for 17 days.

Is it good for your hair to leave it unwashed? Unequivocally not, say those who know what they are talking about. Just because it suggests so on social media, doesn’t mean people should follow the herd.

Hair washing is a frivolous subject, but there is a serious point here, of course.

Andrew Tate is a dangerous misogynist who is currently being detained in Romania. That doesn’t stop him being hugely influential. And the Covid experience tells us just how quickly conspiracy theories are spread and taken as fact. We should be careful what we read and use our own in-built fact-checker, together with taking a dose of common sense.