Government criticised after Lynemouth woman went without food for five days

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The Government has been urged to do more to support people and avoid necessities such as food and heating ‘becoming luxuries’.

Last week it was revealed that Lynemouth woman Mary Hall had been forced to go without food for five days due to the spiralling cost of living.

Mrs Hall was forced to turn to charity Changing Lives for help after her pet training business was rendered unviable, and her Universal Credit payments were not enough to cover her rent, food and bills.

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It comes as the energy regulator Ofgem announced that the energy price cap will increase by 80% to £3,549 from October. Mrs Hall had already said last week she is considering switching off her gas for the winter.

Lynemouth's Mary Hall with Changing Lives financial inclusion worker Lynn Crawford.Lynemouth's Mary Hall with Changing Lives financial inclusion worker Lynn Crawford.
Lynemouth's Mary Hall with Changing Lives financial inclusion worker Lynn Crawford.

Cllr Liz Dunn, who represents the Lynemouth ward on Northumberland County Council, and is shadow cabinet member for healthy lives, branded the situation ‘scandalous’ and called on the Government to act.

She said: “Reading the story of a Lynemouth woman who has gone without food for five days and is considering not turning her heating on this winter is enough to make anyone weep.

“Something is going very wrong in this country when necessities such as food and energy become luxuries that people can’t afford. No one should be going hungry or cold in the UK.

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“The lifting of the energy prices cap, as I understand it, is setting the maximum price the energy suppliers can charge. The point is they can charge this, but they could choose not to. They’re making obscene amounts of money while millions, like this lady in Lynemouth, are going hungry and facing the prospect of a cold and miserable winter.

“What happened to the Government’s duty of care for the people they are supposed to be serving?

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Cost of living crisis: Lynemouth woman goes without food for five days

“Labour want to see an urgent programme of homes being insulated to keep people warm and cut down on energy requirements and a Government which is prepared to have serious conversation with energy suppliers. High energy costs make everything more expensive because they have to be passed on.

“The number of people no longer able to simply ‘make ends meet’ is rising and our charitable organisations are seeing their resources stretched as they experience record numbers of people reaching out for help and witness a decline in mental health and well being.

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“It might be a win for the energy suppliers but everyone else loses. The Government must tackle this as a matter of urgency.”

The Government has said it is supporting people with at least £1,200 of direct payments, starting with a £326 cost of living payment already issued to more than seven million households on low incomes.

The total cost of the support package is £37 billion and will save the typical employee more than £330 a year via a tax cut. People on Universal Credit will keep £1,000 more of what they earn, while all households will receive £400 energy payments.

The Government’s Household Support Fund – boosted by £500m – will support vulnerable families to help pay for essentials.

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