Cost of living: Mother-of-three who works full-time and says she earns a good wage tells of her daily struggle | UK News

Cost of living: Mother-of-three who works full-time and says she earns a good wage tells of her daily struggle | UK News

As the biting winter weather continues, the cost of living crisis is deepening for many UK households.

Mum-of-three Claire Williams works full-time and says she makes good money but questions why she can’t keep her kids warm.

It’s a struggle felt by parents across the country.

The 37-year-old from Runcorn, Cheshire, has now written a report for Sky News about the financial and emotional challenges she faces every day:

As a mother, the last thing you want is to see your children suffer.

You want to do whatever it takes to keep them safe, warm, and well fed. This is becoming increasingly difficult for parents across the UK.

The constantly rising food and energy costs and the lack of wage increases compensate for this.

No mother wants to choose between feeding her children or paying a bill.

Yet here we are, rationing the heating for fear of getting a bill we can’t pay.

Clare Williams

A freezing home

Our typical working day starts at 6 a.m. It was -9 degrees outside this morning. The struggle to get out of bed in a freezing cold home is real. I can’t feel my fingers. I quarrel with myself for a good 20 minutes before squeezing out of my warm cocoon and into the cold of my bedroom.

I open my curtains and the windows are soaked with condensation, the mold is caused by a lack of heat and proper ventilation in my meetinghouse. I have to open the window in my already freezing room to prevent further damage.

Clare Williams

“Why don’t you just turn on the heating?” i hear you say Because I can’t afford it.

The children are on their feet getting ready for school, rushing into their uniforms to keep from freezing. They go to school without complaining once. They are good guys. We all look forward to that little bit of warmth we get at work or school.

The kids get home at 4.30pm on average and have already made it their task to turn off the heating because they know we can’t afford it. So they put on warm pajamas and snuggle up in their blankets on the sofa until I get home at 5.30pm.

No child should have to do this.

(LR) 14-year-old twins Thomas Peers and Benjamin Peers
(LR) Two of Claire’s three children, 14-year-old twins Thomas and Benjamin Peers

Heating only on for 20 minutes

I turn on the heat for about 20 minutes to warm up the house and motivate us all to clean and cook our dinner. My little dream team. Do everything together.

The laundry will have to wait until the weekend. I can’t afford to dress the heated girl and if it stays that way, she’ll get wet in the cold. It’s silly how I now have to think about how I cook, how I clean and wash dishes, all influenced by gas and electricity usage.

Make sure all plugs are unplugged and turned off. Don’t use too much water when washing dishes, limit laundry to three loads on a Saturday, prioritize uniforms so kids have clean clothes for school. Bedding will have to wait now.

It feels like an endless mountain of laundry that I’ll never finish. Twenty minutes of heat, radiators getting warm, I can feel my toes again. It feels like luxury.

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A year in the livelihood crisis

Monthly energy bills are skyrocketing from £80 last year to almost £300 in 2022

I remember paying £70 to £80 a month for gas and electricity this time last year. We had no qualms about when the heating was on and often forgot to turn it off at night. Now I’m paying almost £300 a month while rationing our energy.

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When I see my kids cold and wrapped up on the sofa, I feel like I’m not meeting a basic need. I work full time, make good money, why can’t I keep my kids warm?

It’s bedtime again, that routine of getting to bed as soon as possible. Rushing skincare and brushing teeth to nestle back into my fluffy sheets, afraid to let my arms or legs out of the covers. It’s too cold for that.

Tossing and turning for a few hours, knowing that tomorrow we have to get up for work and go out in the cold.

Roll on the summer.

Continue reading:
Can’t afford your heating? Here is what support is available

Analysis: Inflation may have peaked, but be prepared for a gloomy winter
What is the government’s Cold Weather Payment and who receives it?

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