“My wages no longer cover everything I have to pay out due to increasing bills”


Mags Davies says when her gas and electricity bill rose from £89 to £208 in April she blamed the bank but later had to sit down to figure out how to cut her spending

Mags Davies from Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales
Mags Davies from Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales

Thousands are expected in London today to demand government action against standstill wages and the rising cost of living.

The TUC We Demand Better rally comes as its analysis shows working people lost nearly £20,000 in real income between 2008 and 2021 because wages failed to keep pace with inflation.

And the union body says the wage slump is showing little sign of slowing down as real wages are now worth £66 less a month than in 2008 and are expected to fall by more than £500 this year.

The TUC says millions of people are left without a ‘safety net’ due to years of wage stagnation and are at the mercy of soaring bills and prices. Ahead of the rally, we spoke to people in the South Wales town of Merthyr Tydfil to find out how they were being affected.

All week the Daily Mirror travels the UK covering the cost of living crisis and its aftermath. Today we see suffering in MerthyrTydfil, South Wales and Hastings, East Sussex.

Merthyr Tydfil town center in South Wales


Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)

One of those shocked by the price increases is Mags Davies.

Direct debits for utilities would leave her online account every month – but in April her gas and electric bills bounced. She initially blamed the bank, but after checking found her monthly bill had gone from £89 to £208.

“My salary didn’t cover everything that I would normally have to pay,” she admitted. “I was upset, I just hadn’t realized things had gone so high.

Mags said her gas and electricity bill went from £89 to £208


Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)

“There was total panic. I had to sit down and work out my bills and how I was going to reduce them.”

Mags needs her Peugeot to visit her sister Linda, 68, who has a learning disability. Mags, who qualifies for a free bus pass, visits twice a day and would rely on the car in an emergency.

She’s changed the way she does her weekly grocery shopping. “I do my main business at Aldi now,” said Mags, who works for Merthyr Council.

Brits face higher bills


(Getty Images)

“But I go a week and it’s a price and then you go the next week and it’s 50p or 60p more. I go to Asda once a month to get the things I can’t get from Aldi.”

Unison member Mags takes a packed lunch to work to save money. She used to refill a 500ml bottle of Fanta from a two liter jug. “Now I buy Aldi’s own orangeade and fill up my schnapps with it,” she said.

Mags, who has two rescue dogs, has also noticed spikes in pet food prices. “A year ago dog food cost me £11 a week, now it’s £16.”

The Worksop Demands Better event was held at Manton Sports Club this week


Paul David Drabble)

Mags is very concerned about autumn, when the price cap is set to rise from £1,971 a year to an estimated £2,800. “How do people get along who don’t work? We’re going to have big problems by Christmas,” she said.

Hundreds of unionists last weekend celebrated the anniversary of the 1831 Merthyr Rebellion, which saw the first hoisting of the red flag as a symbol of working-class rebellion. And activists in Merthyr Tydfil were looking forward to today’s rally.

Local Labor member in Senedd, Dawn Bowden, says protesters would “demand better because working people deserve it”.

She added: “You have the same right to a decent standard of living and a decent way of life as the privileged elite of Old Eton.”

Dawn Bowden Says Protesters ‘Better Demand Because Working People Deserve It’


Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)

National Union of Students Cymru chief Becky Ricketts shared how students are using food banks. “It’s desperate for our young people,” she said.

And locals on the city streets told how the crisis is affecting them.

Landscaper Dan Inglefield, 30, said: “It’s quite difficult. I must have spent £800 on oil that will last six months, seven months max.

“I drive a delivery truck. Just the trip to the customer and back costs me half of what I earn.”

Our team of cost of living experts are here to help YOU through a very difficult year.

They bring you the latest money news and also offer expert advice.

Whether it’s skyrocketing utility bills, the cost of weekly groceries, or increased taxes, our team is always by your side.

Every Thursday at 13:00 they participate in a Facebook Live event to answer your questions and offer their advice. Visit facebook.com/dailymirror/live watch. You can read more about our team of experts here.

If you have a question – or want to share your story – please email webnews@mirror.co.uk.

Kirsty Powles, 34, a mother of two who works for a public health agency, said: “In the supermarket I would normally spend £100, now it’s £150.

“I used to spend £30 a week on petrol, now it’s £45. It’s only going to get worse.”

Daniel Davidson, 30, who lives in B&B accommodation and has ADHD, said: “I started eating eggs, cheap tuna and 29p pasta.”

The TUC demands…

  • A real raise for every worker and a real living wage for all
  • Respect & Safety for All Workers: Ban on zero-hour contracts and termination and reinstatement; regular sick pay
  • Stop racism in the workplace
  • Real, permanent increase in universal credit
  • Strengthen union bargaining rights now.

JOIN the march and rally today. Gather at Portland Place, London from 10.30am. March starts at 12:00 p.m. Rally at 1 p.m.

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/my-wages-no-longer-cover-27265057 "My wages no longer cover everything I have to pay out due to increasing bills"

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