Our report found that five million UK households have turned to credit or savings to buy food, causing quite a stir this week – and not just here on Which? Convo. We round up responses from all over the web…
In our research, eight in 10 of the households struggling to pay for food said they were worried about food prices and more than half said they planned to cut back spending on food in the coming months.
Our senior insight researcher, Caroline Fletcher, was shocked by these findings and didn’t realise so many people were unable to cover their monthly food bill. But others weren’t so surprised, like commenter Terry:
‘Last year I was on the brink of borrowing off friends and relatives to make ends meet. Luckily for me, it didn’t get that bad, but it seems only a matter of time.’
Budget or bust?
Elsewhere online, there was a lot of debate about how people are budgeting. RosieFromLondon told the Evening Standard:
‘I find it hard to believe that this can happen in our generous welfare society. It may well be the inability of people to budget inside their income, instead of buying expensive goods as if they are still working for decent wages. Food is still affordable if you look hard enough – street markets, own-brand supermarket goods.’
Kathleen Wilson had a similar view when she responded to Metro’s story via Facebook:
‘If people spent less on their luxuries such as Sky TV, broadband connection, mobile phone contracts, eating out, drinking etc they would not have a problem paying for food. The issue to me is that we as a nation are so used to having expendable income that we struggle to prioritise when money is less than what we are used to.’
In response, Sharon Taylor explained why broadband is essential:
‘When five-year-olds get homework they have to do online, broadband these days is no longer a luxury but an educational necessity.’
And, back here on Convo, Nick Weeks urged cynics to put themselves in the shoes of people who are struggling, earning himself this week’s Comment of the Week:
‘The reality for many people is that there just isn’t enough cash for energy and food. If you’re on benefits, some kind of phone and internet connection is essential, especially if you’re looking for work. If you lost your job or became too disabled to work tomorrow, how long would it take you to set yourself up to live on the dole? What would you do if the fridge or boiler broke?’
Don’t fall into the credit trap
While many felt that paying for food is simply a case of better budgeting, others went much further the other way and felt that it could lead to much more serious debt. Commenting on Evening Standard, Dhanraj said:
‘They are going to loan shark payday lenders just to survive and getting even more into debt. And using their credit cards to the limit. I know the feeling having gone through the Thatcher recession and literally counting the pennies. Never again. My advice is downsize as much as possible, don’t borrow, and tear up those credit cards.’
And, on BBC.co.uk, Smeagol proved that this is a living reality for some:
‘Mine and my partners’ pay was frozen for five years and counting, and energy bills up by more than 30%. [We are] non-smokers, no Sky, last drink I had was nine months ago. We are finding we have to borrow more and more just to cover essentials. It’s either pay the rent/electricity and council tax or go without food. Something has to give.’
So where do you stand on this issue? Do you struggle to pay for your food – or worry that you soon will be? Or, is it simply a case of cutting back on other things and prioritising what’s really essential?