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Families still struggling to cope with finances

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: December 07, 2012

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FAMILIES in Burton and South Derbyshire are continuing to struggle to make ends meet despite encouraging figures revealing the cost of living is cheaper in the region than the national average.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, the cost of running a household is cheaper in the West Midlands than in many other parts of England.

The organisation measured outgoings in 12 different categories including food, clothing, fuel and energy, with each found to cost less than average.

The East Midlands wasn’t far behind, with 10 of the 12 categories also cheaper than average.

But despite people in the region paying out less, Sarah Brown, department manager at the South Derbyshire Citizens Advice Bureau, believes the figures have been distorted as what hasn’t been taken into account, crucially, is the level of income families receive in the region.

People living in London and the south east of England generally tend to earn more than the rest of the country. She said the centre was constantly packed with concerned members of the public.

She said: “I’m actually surprised by those figures and it suggests the income in the area is possibly lower than average.

“We are seeing people here on a daily basis who can’t afford to pay for things like food and fuel.

“More and more food banks are being set up, and that in itself shows people are struggling.”

While on the face of it the figures appear to be a boost for the area, Mrs Brown insists the CAB will be as busy as ever this Christmas.

She added: “Our case worker on the advice team is pretty much fully booked until the end of January.

“We have a lot of bailiff actions, council tax arrears and people not being able to pay back loans.

“Christmas is meant to be an enjoyable time for families but at the moment there is really nowhere they can go for help.”

FACT FILE

West Midlands average weekly spend

Housing, fuel and power: £54.40 average: £61.80

Household goods and services: £25.80 average: £29.60

Recreation and culture: £54.40 average: £60.70

Clothing and footwear: £19.40 average: £21.40

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