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How deprived families in Bexley are having to cope with deprivation and cost of living squeeze – South London News

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By Kiro Evans, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents in one of the most deprived areas of Bexley are heading for budget shops and cutting out takeaways to make ends meet.

The cost of living crunch is looming and people living in Erith are being forced to make drastic changes to eke out the cash in their pockets. They are facing rising energy bills, inflation and food prices going up.

Erith is ranked as one of the most deprived areas in the borough of Bexley, according to 2019 Government data.

It is feared that poorer people will be hit the hardest.

Residents in Erith have said they are making changes to their lifestyle as a result, including switching to cheaper supermarkets.

Skye King, 21, who works at a local gym said: “I live with my mum and me and my boyfriend live between our [parents’] houses.

When we get a house, how much are we going to need for a deposit. 110 per cent?  What kind of money am I going to need?

“Before, it was like double your wage but now it’s like quadruple. I’m thinking ‘oh okay, I’ll live in a box then’.”

When asked about if she had made any changes to her lifestyle, she said: “100 per cent yes.

Residents had some concerns about the looming cost of living problems and some said they were making different lifestyle changes. CREDIT: Kiro Evans 

We started our savings and now we’ve got less takeaways, trying to cook healthier as well. And instead of shopping everyday, we’re shopping at the start of the week and hoping it lasts and topping up if we need to.”

Passing through the town centre on her way home, lab technician Janine Tweedie said: “It’s not going to affect me too much but I know it will for a lot of people who are privately renting or owning their own homes.

“I am shopping in a different store. I was going to Morrison’s but now I’m going to Tesco. It’s a lot further away but it is cheaper. And a lot less takeaways.”

Rebecca Ellery, who works in Erith but lives in Bexleyheath, said she was also feeling the crunch.

She said: “Food prices are definitely changing. Everything has gone up, hasn’t it? I’m having to budget a little bit better and having to think about it a bit more.

“I suppose in the end it will balance itself out, but for the minute it seems to have all happened at once.”

For 59-year-old freelance salesman Ron Charles, the cost of living could “exaggerate” his situation, but he added things could be difficult for him in any case.

He said: “I must admit I’m clawing myself out of some debt I got myself into, so [the cost of living crisis] almost exaggerates everything.

“I’m not really aware of the difference – I’m just sort of working within the situation I’ve got.

Whether the economy was going good or whatever, I’m still in this situation until I clear all matters.”

Conservative Cabinet member for resources councillor David Leaf outlined what Bexley was doing to help residents.

He said: “We are very concerned about the impact of the rising costs of living on our residents.

Times are tough and the impact of the pandemic continues to cause residents and businesses in the borough difficulties and hardship.

“Over the last couple of years we have been helping households across the borough facing difficult times.

Our council tax reduction scheme gives working aged households on the lowest incomes a discount of up to 80% on council tax and pensioner households a 100% discount.

Around one in seven households in Bexley benefits from this.

“We will also be administering the £150 rebate on council tax bills announced by the government which will benefit around 73,000 households in council tax bands A-D.”

He advised anyone in need of help to access council advice resources.

 

Main Picture: 21-year-old Skye King is among those making lifestyle changes as she tries to save up for a house amid the cost of living crunch. CREDIT: Kiro Evans 

 

 

 

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