Joshua Wheeler-Gaunt, 33, is one of a growing number of people worried about rising energy bills and other costs.
Asked about the things that have become unaffordable or very pricey for him, he said: “Everything! From house maintenance to rising energy bills [and] the cost of replacing my increasingly unreliable 14-year-old car – almost impossible without buying something equally unreliable or going up to my eyeballs in debt.
“I think my energy bills are up by about £15 a month when compared with last summer, which will be more like £40 or £50 once it gets colder. Water rose by about £60 a year, council tax by a few pounds a month …. Each one eats into your spare income. I’d say about 40% of my salary is easily gone on house costs – mortgage, council tax and bills – before considering any maintenance or improvements.”
Wheeler-Gaunt lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and works in quality assurance for an NHS unlicensed medicines manufacturer. In terms of his pay, he is an NHS “band 6”, which means between £32,000 and £39,000 a year.
He added: “Even small luxuries such as a meal or a beer out now threaten to swallow such a chunk of my income that I can’t really go out any more if I want to save towards the more costly things. My salary is in no way commensurate with the cost of living, even though I’m probably an above average earner.
“As I live alone, any rise in costs chips away at what I can save,” he said. This money, he added, was largely destined for expensive but necessary purchases such as “replacing my knackered boiler”.
“It just adds an extra element of stress to your life. If costs keep rising, I’ll probably struggle to ever start a family in the UK. If things don’t change, I’ll probably have to leave the country again. I used to live in Switzerland, where the cost of living is more balanced and you feel like there is actually a future.”