U.K. emergency helplines hit hard amid high inflation

U.K. emergency helplines hit hard amid high inflation

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Those working at emergency helplines in the U.K. are cautioning a stark increase in calls by residents unable to afford food or rent, as Britain’s inflation rate hit a new 40-year high of 9.1 per cent, recent data has shown. 


The Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday consumer price inflation rose slightly from 9 per cent in April, itself the highest level since 1982. Experts say that Russia’s war in Ukraine is driving food and fuel prices even higher.


“Teachers have taken second jobs as Domino’s delivery drivers that are delivering to their students because they simply can’t afford to live on a teacher’s wage,” Rachel Birtles, helpline manager at U.K-based Connect Assist, said.


“Nurses are having to access food banks because they’re not able to manage on the income that they’re bringing home, even though they’re working 12-hour shifts.”


On average, 2,800 calls are made to the helpline each week. Nearly half of those waiting in line claim they have no money in their bank accounts after paying their expenses.


According to Nicola Howcroft, a helpline adviser, one of her callers was a woman with a full-time job and children who was evicted because she could no longer afford to pay her rent.


“All they’ve got in the hotel room is a kettle, so the normal tea, coffee service and no food. Even if they got a foodbank, how are they going to cook pasta and heat up soup?” Howcroft said.


The cost of living is rising for millions of people in Britain and around Europe, in part due to the conflict in Ukraine that is depleting supplies of energy and food staples like wheat.


“I can’t fathom how families … are finding it, because as a professional on a relatively good salary, I’m finding it hard,” Matthew Greenwood, a teacher, said.


With files from Associated Press

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