England

West Midlands families forced to make lifestyle changes

Ashcroft family/inflation Image copyright bbc
Image caption Mandy and Dean Ashcroft have taken one car off the road in order to save money on monthly bills

The cost of food, petrol and energy is forcing families in the West Midlands to make lifestyle changes.

Mandy and Dean Ashcroft, from Stourport-on-Severn, have taken a car off the road and installed an electricity card meter to cut spending.

Mr Ashcroft said: "What we save each month without insurance, tax or MOT all helps get us through."

He works at SDF Ltd, a foundry in Kidderminster, where he has not had a pay rise for nearly four years.

Mr Ashcroft said: "When we ask we get told it's because of the economy and the industry isn't too good.

"Everything's going up but the wages in our sector just aren't and you start to struggle with petrol, gas and electricity.

"Everything's going through the roof as it is at the moment."

The average pay rise in the West Midlands during the last financial year was 0.4% - in line with the national average.

Monthly shop

Mrs Ashcroft has taken on a job at a shop to help supplement their income.

She said: "I was lucky - I managed to get a job round the corner and now that our car's off the road for 12 months it's made a big difference, we've certainly saved a pretty penny.

"I've been able to put all that money into other bills."

The Ashcroft family have had to alter their shopping habits too.

Mrs Ashcroft said: "We used to go and do a food shop once a week but now we do it once a month in Kidderminster at a big supermarket.

"We stock up on meat and fill up the freezer then buy potatoes and vegetables locally and buy basic essentials like milk on a daily basis.

'Keep tabs on spending'

"You've got to keep tabs on what you're spending."

Companies in the region are also being hit by higher prices for raw materials and energy.

Peter Parkes, managing director of SDF, said a 32% increase in energy bills means the cost of production has risen.

He said: "It's absolutely massive - it will affect out profit margins by the year end by £330,000 - it's that dramatic."

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