Two Warrington generations on the cost of living crisis
'We’re living on pasta - we’ve had enough of it!'
Dear readers — Today we have a photo essay for you by writer/photographer Dani Cole on how the cost of living crisis is impacting those in Warrington. As Dani found out, people are making difficult decisions like not cooking to save fuel costs or hoping to win big on scratchcards in order to make ends meet. It’s not necessarily an easy read, but we think it’s well worth your time.
But before that, Everton FC’s auditing firm walks away due to the ownership of Farhad Moshiri and even more anti-Liverpool-hosting-Eurovision op-eds from the Telegraph.
Your Post briefing
Everton FC’s auditing firm — BDO — has told the club they will not continue to work with them due to the ownership of Farhad Moshiri, according to The Guardian. Moshiri himself has denied that BDO has walked away, and BDO wouldn’t comment, but two sources told the paper that they had “informally withdrawn”. Everton’s finances have been scrutinised since Moshiri’s Russian business partner Alisher Usmanov was sanctioned by the UK government after his country’s invasion of Ukraine. Usmanov had sponsored the club’s training ground and paid £30m for the first naming rights of the club’s in-construction Bramley Moore Dock stadium. All sponsorship deals with Usmanov were cancelled by Everton in March but The Guardian noted it is “unusual” for an auditor to leave a business scrambling for a last-minute replacement.
The Merseyside Youth Football League have called off all fixtures this weekend due to “multiple incidents of inappropriate and threatening behaviour” towards referees. Keith Radcliffe, a senior referee in the league, said that referees had been getting “physically assaulted” and unless something changed there would have to be a “national strike”. According to the BBC, the Football Association disciplinary reports for 2021-22 detail wide-ranging abuse of officials. Incidents catalogue referees being spat at, head-butted and in one case punched by up to 20 people, sometimes in games involving children as young as 11.
Bulky Bob’s — after two decades of service, the household waste collector for Liverpool City Council — has been binned off. According to emails seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the contract was said to not represent “best value” after the firm, which collects large items from homes, provided a price for the extension of the contract. Liberal Democrat councillor Richard Clein expressed fears of an increase in fly-tipping if the transition to a new firm wasn’t “smooth”.
And finally: From the paper that brought you ‘Liverpool has no galleries’ comes the latest Eurovision article to rile the Liverpudlian public. Yes, it’s been a busy week on The Telegraph’s ‘Liverpool shouldn’t host a pop concert’ desk. After Culture Critic Ben Lawrence sent the city’s politicians into a huff by suggesting Liverpool lack of cultural might makes it an unworthy host, destination expert Chris Moss has a different take; that Liverpool — land of “glorious docks, towering cathedrals, superb (and free) museums” is simply above a kitschy “bonanza of tedium”. Perhaps battle-weary from last week’s war on “misinformation,” the city’s leading lights have decided to lay low so far. We eagerly await round three.
🪑 For those who have everyday household items or furniture in need of a bit of love, the repair cafe is back at DoES Liverpool on Sunday. Volunteers are ready with tools to help you bring your pieces back to life. Register for free here.
✨ Made of Stars, a 30-foot pyramid installation, pops up in Great George Street for one more week. Within the pyramid features some beautiful portraits of 14 refugee artists who have sought refuge in Liverpool. More here.
🍻 It’s Oktoberfest, or Oktobersesh as our friends at 24 Kitchen Street would have you call it. The beer garden is open for bratwurst, steins, eurotrash and disco on Saturday. Tickets start at £5.
🎙 Italian-Liverpudlian author Thea Lenarduzzi brings her thoughts on migration, cooking and living to Lecker podcast, a weekly discussion of food, memory and heritage. Listen here.
By Dani Cole
At 86, Margaret Davies still keeps herself busy. She walks into Warrington town centre every day to do her shopping, and will usually have a hot meal out — her only one of the day — if her finances allow it. When we meet she tells me she’s had a minced beef pasty with some chips, plus a cup of coffee from the Pound Bakery, which costs around £3.15.
She doesn’t cook at home, because she wants to save energy. A few cakes and some cups of tea do her just fine, she assures me. “I’m trying to win some money,” she says, holding up some scratchcards. They cost £3 each. A recent survey carried out on behalf of older people’s charity Independent Age, found that 61% of over-65s will not use their heating at all in the winter months to save money.
Margaret has a state pension, as well as pension credit. She recently received £300 in winter fuel payment from the Department for Work and Pensions. “I’m not using gas or electric, but I've got a big woolly coat and a big woolly blanket — I sit watching television all wrapped up,” she says.
While Margaret’s two children see her each week, aside from doing her daily walk into town, she does not go out and admits she gets very lonely but is afraid of venturing out. She’s been a widow for 40 years, her first and only husband died aged 46. “The thing that's upsetting me is how expensive things have gone,” she says. “I could go and buy something for £1, now all of a sudden it’s £1.75. Honestly, even in the pound shop, where I do a lot of my shopping because it’s cheap, their prices have gone up too.”
Warrington lies on the commuter belt between Liverpool and Manchester. Last year after research by a mortgage broker RM Mortgage Solutions, it was named the best place to live and work, because of low living costs and high quality of life and job density. When I visited Warrington, the town centre was fairly quiet, and many people I approached were reluctant to speak to me about their experiences of the cost of living crisis. But like other areas of the UK, it is impacting people of all ages.
A short distance away from Margaret, Chloe, 26, and her boyfriend George, 20 are waiting outside Warrington Interchange. They’ve just done a small food shop at Aldi, which has totalled £50 and will last them the week. “The price of food is panicking us,” Chloe says. “We’re living on pasta – we’ve had enough of it!” Their usual tactic is to buy packs of spaghetti, which costs 20p, and jars of bolognese, which costs 60p. “So we can have a big meal for £1,” George says.
They live in a 1-bedroom council flat in Orford. They’re both on universal credit (UC), which for joint claimants is £525.72 a month if one person is over 25.
They don’t have to pay their rent but do have to cover some of their energy. “For our little flat, it's over £100 [a month] for the gas and electricity — before, it was £50”, Chloe says. She used to be a mental health support worker but says when she’s looked for similar roles, many were on zero-hour contracts. “There’s no guarantee you’ve got work,” she says; George worked in a warehouse, but would often be told at last notice that he wasn’t needed. “I sit on Indeed [the job site] every night, but I’ve only heard back from two jobs,” he says.
The government recently launched a Help for Households website to help ameliorate the cost of living crisis. In July, the Warrington Guardian reported that a quarter — 21, 900 — of households across Warrington were eligible to receive a cost of living payment from the government, a figure which is expected to stand at £14 million in the autumn.
For both Chloe and George, UC offers some financial stability while they look for work again. “I want to work,” George tells me. Often the couple will not turn the heating on, and tell me their experience is not isolated. “This story is the same of any couple, any family on benefits in Warrington,” he says. “We’re lucky we haven’t got kids.”