Cost of living crisis bites Bilston: 'I earned good money but now I'm retired 'I’m always in debt'

Until recently, Stephen Bennett and his wife Paula enjoyed a comfortable standard of living.

Stephen and Paula Bennett.
Stephen and Paula Bennett.

“I worked as a salesman in a furniture shop, I earned good money,” he said.

But since his retirement earlier this year, the couple are now having to get by on a pension of £185 a week.

“It’s paid two weeks in arrears, so I’m always in debt,” said Mr Bennett, 66, who lives in Tipton. “Out of that, the rent is £100 a week, the water rates are £35 a month, and the council tax is £70 a month, which is ridiculous. And then you have got the gas and electricity on top of that.”

Shoppers in Bilston today backed the Feed a Family campaign. Many spoke of the challenges they face weeks to come as bills rise.

Mr Bennett says his wife is not eligible for a pension yet because she is just 64 years old, and was advised to apply for Universal Credit instead. “We’re still waiting to hear what we will get for that,” he says.

Echoing the famous words of Theresa May, 66-year-old Mr Bennett, says: “We’re just about managing, but I don’t think it would take much to tip us over. At the moment we’re managing because we have got savings, but if it carries on like this, we won’t have for much longer.”

Susan Gordon

Susan Gordon, 60, lives in Moxley with partner Dean Chapman and son Jayden, 16. She lives on Universal Credit, which she says doesn’t go far. She said: “The rent is paid, and the council tax is paid, and after that you are left with just enough to cover the food. My partner’s always putting the heating on, and I’m always telling him to turn it off, I say ‘just put a cardi on or a hat and coat’.”

Foundry worker Darren Till, 51, says he earns a good income, but even he is feeling the pinch. “The price of everything is going up,” said Mr Till, who lives in Bilston.

Darren Till.

Retired company director John Hammond, 61, who lives near Cannock, says he is managing at the moment, but is concerned about what will happen when the energy price rises kick in.

He says the picture is often muddied by talk about the cost to the “average” family, without any real explanation of what that meant.

“They say it’s £100 to fill the average car, but mine’s about £60,” he says.

“At the moment things are a bit more expensive, but I don’t think it has really started yet,” he says.

“I think we will really begin to see it about February or March next year.”

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