Cost of living crisis: People are 'skipping meals' says Danker
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Skyrocketing inflation is forcing families to limit and find alternative ways of heating their homes. It comes after last week’s Queen’s Speech was criticised for failing to tackle the enormity of the cost of living crisis, leaving thousands in fear for how they will be able to afford basic everyday essentials. Farm owner Daniel Skinner told the BBC the rise in fuel costs is causing major concern, as the increased price in the basic running of agriculture threatens to push food prices even higher.
He said: “The difficulty is cashflow. You need to be spending your money now on your fertiliser, but you’re not going to realise that return for quite some time.
“The other problem is increase in risk. If you get a really dry May, then your crop of barley on a south-facing slope could be completely droughted out.
“I suppose in a normal year that would be really bad, but in a year like this when your input costs have gone up so much, if something like that happens it would be a complete disaster – you could potentially lose everything.”
He added that locals had been buying lots of firewood from him, “with the intention of single-room heating of their house with firewood, rather than turning the central heating on.”
The farm’s livery manager added that the necessity of commuting a lot for her job is making the fuel prices sting even more.
Two of Northern Ireland’s biggest food companies have also warned consumers to expect further price rises as the year goes on.
Food production inputs like fuel, fertiliser and animal feed have experienced rapid inflation over the last year.
Dale Farm chief executive Nick Whelan told BBC Radio Ulster only about half of that inflation had been passed to consumers.
He added business was entering its fourth round of price increases in about six months.
The company makes consumer brands like Spelga yoghurt and Dromona butter as well as supplying other food businesses like Greggs.
Mr Whelan said: “The inflation that is coming right through the supply chain hasn’t probably hit the retail shelves in full yet.
“In broad brush, probably about half the inflation has come through to the consumer and the other half is to come. That’s challenging news for the consumer.”
Justin Coleman director at Moy Park, one of Europe’s biggest chicken producers, echoed the concern.
He said inflation had started to “creep into the market” around a year ago but had “exploded” over the last four months.
Last week official data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) suggested the price of fertiliser in March was 149 percent higher compared to the same month last year.
He said that for businesses like poultry production which are highly energy and feed intensive, the rate of inflation was “in and around 20 percent”, compared to the overall rate of inflation in the UK of 7 percent.
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This comes in the wake of criticism from MPs and charities that Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech failed to properly address the issue and that the measures proposed fall far short of what the country needs.
“We are deeply concerned that despite [the] Queen’s Speech stating the Government’s priority is to ‘help ease the cost of living’, what’s been announced will do little to help the poorest households,” said Dean Pallant of the Salvation Army.
The rise in the cost of living has hit everyone, but for those with low, fixed incomes and high energy requirements, it’s been devastating.”
SNP MP Gavin Newlands branded the speech a “lost opportunity”.
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