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Britain’s energy crisis deepens as gas prices soar by a FIFTH to all-time high

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Britain’s winter of discontent looks to be getting worse as the price of wholesale gas surged by 20 per cent in a day to record levels – and is now 500 per cent higher than the start of 2021 – as it was revealed families face paying £1,700 more for energy by April and an extra £1,800 for other essentials by Christmas.

Millions are facing a financial squeeze thanks to inflation driven by labour shortages, rising energy costs, a lack of HGV drivers and gaps in global supply chains – but the Prime Minister dismissed cost of living fears at the Conservative Party conference and insisted it was not his job to ‘fix every problem in business’.

Yesterday the price of gas reached 300p per therm – the first time it has reached that level – as concerns about supplies from Russia and predictions of a cold winter in Europe pushed the price up by a fifth in 24 hours. The price was 150p a month ago and below 50p from February to May. 

Experts believe that if gas remains at this level, which is now predicted, the average household energy bills could jump by as much as a third or £420 to almost £1,700 a year from April.

Families who have already endured Covid-related uncertainty over last 18 months face a triple-blow of rising energy bills, soaring food prices and incoming tax hikes all fuelling inflation.

Phil Hewitt of EnAppSys, the consultancy, said: ‘This (gas) price level is currently the price for the whole of winter. This is extreme pricing’. Thomas Rodgers of Icis, the price reporting agency, said: ‘The European market is entering the winter with record low stocks. Over the past few days we’ve had weather forecasts in Europe turn colder and more settled, so this means more demand for heating and power generation on the way’. 

Compounding fears that a cost of living crisis is arriving, global oil prices globally also jumped to a three-year high of $83 a barrel.

Yesterday the price of gas reached 300p per therm - the first time it has reached that level - as concerns about supplies from Russia and predictions of a cold winter in Europe pushed the price up by a fifth in 24 hours. The price was 150p a month ago and below 50p from February to May

Yesterday the price of gas reached 300p per therm – the first time it has reached that level – as concerns about supplies from Russia and predictions of a cold winter in Europe pushed the price up by a fifth in 24 hours. The price was 150p a month ago and below 50p from February to May

Analysis of price rises in the last year shows the cost of a second-hand car has risen more than £1,600, a tank of fuel is up more than £10 and the price of a pint of beer is creeping close to £4

Analysis of price rises in the last year shows the cost of a second-hand car has risen more than £1,600, a tank of fuel is up more than £10 and the price of a pint of beer is creeping close to £4

Exclusive research for the Daily Mail by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) also yesterday revealed how inflation will cost the typical family of four an extra £1,800 by the end of this year. Meanwhile, a retired couple can expect to see living costs rise by more than £1,100, and a lower income couple could be stung by nearly £900

Exclusive research for the Daily Mail by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) also yesterday revealed how inflation will cost the typical family of four an extra £1,800 by the end of this year. Meanwhile, a retired couple can expect to see living costs rise by more than £1,100, and a lower income couple could be stung by nearly £900

Today exclusive research for the Daily Mail by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) reveals how inflation will cost the typical family of four an extra £1,800 by the end of this year, while a retired couple can expect to see living costs rise by more than £1,100, and a lower income couple could be stung by nearly £900.

Meanwhile, a Money Mail poll today reveals that one in two households have already started making cutbacks due to concerns over the rising cost of living. 

But while many Britons are fear a financial hit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday insisted that he is not worried about rising prices because he believes they will be temporary, and insisted it is ‘not his job’ to fix every aspect of supply chains in the UK.   

Asked about the situation during the Conservative Party conference, he told the BBC: ‘Actually I think that people have been worried about inflation for a long time and it hasn’t materialised.’

When pressed on the UK’s HGV driver shortage he attempted to deflect attention back to the private sector, saying ‘it’s not the job of government to come in and try and fix every problem in business and industry’. 

Referencing Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s dictum – which ironically she used to stress the need to control inflation in a market economy – Mr Johnson said: ‘In a famous phrase, there is no alternative. There is no alternative.

‘The UK has got to – and we can – do much, much better by becoming a higher-wage, higher-productivity economy.’

But he admitted that Christmas might only be better from a ‘low base’ amid fears of ongoing shortages – after it was effectively cancelled during the pandemic last year.

Furious business chiefs accused the Prime Minister of ‘buck-passing’, while cabinet ministers told MailOnline they were concerned about ‘complacency’ creeping in over inflation.  

In a stark warning of the bumpy road ahead this winter, The Bank of England has already flagged that inflation could hit 4 per cent by the end of the year, while supermarkets say food prices could increase by 5 per cent. 

The energy price cap has now also increased, pushing up bills for more than 15 million households by an average of close to £140 a year.

And the soaring cost of wholesale gas has seen many suppliers go bust – forcing millions of customers on cheap deals onto more expensive tariffs linked to the price cap.

Meanwhile, new figures show pump prices have hit 136.10p per litre, the highest level since September 2013. 

As living costs soar across the country, consumer polls suggest as many as half of Britons have already started cutting back, fearing they may have to penny-pinch now in order to save up for what could be a pricey Christmas.

Others have started shopping early – hoping to beat the price rises – with Aldi’s already selling 1,500 frozen turkey crowns a day, while Christmas pudding sales are up 45 per cent.  

A survey, carried out by Consumer Intelligence, found many had started to scale back spending within the last one to three months — with most fearing rising food and energy prices. 

Meanwhile, analysis of price rises in the last year alone shows the cost of a second-hand car has risen more than £1,600, a tank of fuel is up more than £10, the price of a pint of beer is creeping close to £4 and a bottle of prosecco has risen 55p to £8.

The new month of October also marked the end of the furlough salary support scheme as well as the withdrawal of an extra £20-a-week for struggling households receiving Universal Credit.

It comes as in a flurry of interviews ahead of his keynote speech to Tory conference today, the PM denied that the country is in ‘crisis’, comparing the disruption to a ‘giant waking up’ and ‘creaking’ after the pandemic.       

While many Britons are fearing the worst, Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck a much calmer tone last night, saying he was 'not worried' about inflation. Asked about it during the Conservative Party conference yesterday, he told the BBC: 'Actually I think that people have been worried about inflation for a long time and it hasn't materialised.'

While many Britons are fearing the worst, Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck a much calmer tone last night, saying he was ‘not worried’ about inflation. Asked about it during the Conservative Party conference yesterday, he told the BBC: ‘Actually I think that people have been worried about inflation for a long time and it hasn’t materialised.’

How inflation threatens families and the public finances 

Headline CPI inflation has been spiking, reaching 3.2 per cent in August, and is expected to reach double the Bank of England's 2 per cent target

Headline CPI inflation has been spiking, reaching 3.2 per cent in August, and is expected to reach double the Bank of England’s 2 per cent target 

With inflation set to peak above four per cent, this will likely cause the price of everyday goods – from food to fuel – to rise.

Supermarket food shop

Last year, the average household spent £277 a month on food expenses, but the latest inflation reading suggests this could increase to £285 a month this year.

Price of a pint

The average price of a pint in the pub across the country could soon pass £4, the ONS has said.

Fuel cost

In August this year – when the UK’s headline CPI inflation rate hit 3.2 per cent – average petrol prices reached 134.6 pence a litre, making an average tank of unleaded petrol cost around £74.

That price hike is compared with 113.1 pence a litre a year earlier, when travel was reduced due to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

If inflation tips over the 4 per cent mark, the average price of a tank of fuel could hit £78, and that is without factoring in any supply chain pressures or global issues which make the cost rise further.

How inflation has hit other countries

Inflation has long been seen as one of the biggest threats to economies.

In extreme examples, it has spiralled out of control and sparked panic.

The German Weimar Republic effectively collapsed after the value of the mark went from around 90 marks to the US dollar in 1921 to 7,400 marks to the dollar in 1921.

In Zimbabwe between 2008 and 2009 the monthly inflation rate was estimated to have reached a mind-boggling 79.6billion per cent.

Although inflation has faded in the minds of Britons who have become used to ultra-low interest rates and stable prices, it caused chaos in the 1970s.

Deregulation of the mortgage market, the emergence of credit cards and an overheating economy drove the rate to an eye-watering 25 per cent in 1975.

People would rush to buy goods with their wages after pay-day, as the costs were rising so quickly.

Strikes erupted as there was pressure for pay packets to keep pace with prices.

Unemployment rose as the economy tipped into recession, and the government had to pump up interest rates in a bid to bolster the pound and control the surge.

That meant mortgage interest payments spiked into double digits.

And as a result servicing the national debt became a serious problem. 

Furious business chiefs have also accused Boris of ‘buck-passing’ today after he defiantly dismissed fears over spiking inflation and supply chain chaos today, saying it is not his job to fix all the problems. 

Tensions were also inflamed further by Mr Johnson releasing a series of videos of him drinking beer, buttering toast and eating fish and chips to promote his ‘Build Back Better’ slogan. 

Liz Barnes, managing director at Lewes-based wet wipes firm FreshWipes said: ‘If he likes alliteration, Boris can shove his butter up his backside.’

Others raged that Mr Johnson should be focused on solutions rather than ‘stuffing his face with chips’.

Rhys Schofield, managing director at Peak Mortgages and Protection in Belper, Derbyshire, said: ‘A lovely bit of buck passing from the government. Whilst the government can’t be expected to solve every problem, it is surely the government’s responsibility to fix the problems that they create.

‘A poorly implemented Brexit and general lack of any coherent plan in anything they do just makes life more difficult than it needs to be.

‘It’s easier to make a video stuffing your face with chips to distract the electorate than actually solve problems of your own making.’

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) disagreed with Mr Johnson’s comments over the Government asking for names of European lorry drivers they want to work in the UK.

Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the RHA, said: ‘There isn’t a database of lorry drivers with names attached to them and want to work in Britain that British lorry firms can tap into and say: ‘We’ll have that one, that one, that one or that one’. It doesn’t work like that, it doesn’t exist.’

He added: ‘Why would you give up a well-paid job in Europe to come and drive a truck in Britain for a very short period of time when you have to get a six-month let on a flat and go through all the hassle, initially to be chucked out on Christmas Eve, but now, we’re told, for a bit later?

‘It is not an attractive offer and, effectively, what Europeans have done is kind of vote with their feet on that.’

Ali Capper, executive chair of the trade body British Apples and Pears, who also runs a hop and fruit farm, said:

‘Like all British apple and pear growers, staff are short this year. On our own farm we’re running 10 to 15 per cent short of the numbers we need, but I am speaking to farms that are 30 or 40 per cent short of staff.

‘It’s a combination – Brexit, Covid… but really what we need are sensible policies put in place. We have the seasonal workers scheme for our sector. This year it’s bringing 30,000 workers. There is no doubt that needs to be expanded, probably doubled, and we need the number of permanent operators increased as well.’

A spokesperson for the British Meat Processors Association said: ‘The current supply chain issues are systemic and long term, but we have an immediate and worsening short-term labour crisis right now.

Mr Johnson’s broadcast round  yesterday included his first interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in two years.

And it quickly descended into acrimony, with presenter Nick Robinson demanding that the PM ‘stop talking’ as he blustered through responses to questions.

A clearly stung Mr Johnson repeatedly referred to the rebuke, asking why he was there if he was not meant to be talking. 

In another wave of interviews this afternoon, Mr Johnson said he is ‘not worried’ about staffing shortages and rising energy prices and dismissed concerns about rising inflation.

He told BBC News in Manchester: ‘We’re moving to a new approach, and I do not want to go back to what I think is a tired old failed approach, which people voted against twice in 2016 and in 2019.

‘Some of the people who would be writing to me, may be worried about this, but I’m not worried about this because, actually, I think it would be good for their businesses to invest in people.’

The festive stock-piling begins: Aldi’s frozen turkey crowns are ALREADY selling 1,500 a day, Xmas puddings are up 45% and they’ve ordered 250,000 ‘Chocolate Orange bombes’ – as Britons hoard ‘up to £2,000 of food per family’ 

Panic-buying Britons are already stockpiling for Christmas, with budget retailer Aldi selling 1,500 frozen turkey crowns a day and pudding sales up 45 per cent as families hoard as much as £2,000 worth of food for the winter holiday amid a supply chain crisis. 

Industry experts have been warning Britons to buy their Christmas dinner in advance and even keep it in the freezer as fears grow over supermarkets running out of festive items including pigs in blankets and other party foods in the run up to December 25.

A shortage of butchers could mean that farmers will be forced to ‘throw pigs in a skip’ because they can’t be slaughtered and carved – with 150,000 animals under threat of being culled in the next week. 

The meat crisis is compounding woes caused by a lack of HGV drivers, availability of fuel at petrol stations and labour shortages that could lead to a lack of choice this year, with many essential Christmas gifts and foods scarce or missing completely. 

And with Cabinet Ministers failing to reassure people that supermarkets will be fully stocked this Christmas, and Boris Johnson even insisting it’s ‘not the job of government to come in and fix every problem’ when quizzed about the supply chain crisis, families are now taking matters into their own hands by stocking up on anything with a shelf life just in case. 

Staff from supermarket chain Aldi told consumer journalist Harry Wallop at a Christmas showcase that frozen turkey crowns are already 1,500 a day and pudding sales are up 45 per cent on last year. The retailer also revealed that 250,000 ‘Chocolate Orange bombes’ have been ordered from its supplier in anticipation that the dessert is likely to be Aldi’s biggest hit this Christmas. 

Marks and Spencer said sales of their frozen Christmas food have rocketed by 500 per cent in total on last year as families stockpile, with more than 25,000 turkeys sold by the start of October and sales of their party food growing by 40 per cent per week. 

Iceland revealed this week that people have already begun filling up on festive frozen food, with turkey sales up by 409 per cent compared to this time last year while the the word ‘Christmas’ reached over 17,000 searches across its website in the past week alone 

And Tesco executives have reportedly warned the Government that it is worried about panic-buying in the run-up to Christmas being ‘far worse’ than stockpiling that took place at the start of the pandemic last year, according to trade magazine The Grocer.  

Desperate to ensure Christmas is normal this year after the chaos of Covid last year, single mother Pat Smith, 26, has splurged £2,000 on food already, clearing shelves at six supermarkets and grabbing 24 multipacks of crisps to her overflowing trolley rather than just one.  

It comes as Ipsos Mori polling reveals panic-buying, the energy crisis, a shortage of HGV drivers and fuel are some of the biggest concerns Britons have about this winter, with 54 per cent of families worried they can’t afford Christmas this year. 

Richard Harrow, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation, said: ‘Frozen food sales grew rapidly during the pandemic and we are now seeing evidence of a growing awareness of frozen food’s quality, convenience and ability to reduce food waste.’

James Withers, of Scotland Food & Drink, told the Independent that families should ‘plan ahead’ and freeze what they can as early as possible to avoid having missing ingredients to a traditional Christmas dinner. 

‘Ultimately, now I think we have just run out of time,’ he warned. 

‘I don’t think there is anything that can be done now to get the Christmas trade where it should be. That’s despite warnings being sounded since the summer of the scale of the potential labour shortage we might face.’ 

Polling shared with MailOnline by Ipsos Mori indicates that panic is sweeping the nation, with 75 per cent of people stating panic-buying was something they were worried about affecting their Christmas negatively, closely followed by the energy crisis (70 per cent). 

A lack of HGV drivers to deliver food, presents and other goods was also of serious concern (68 per cent), followed by inflation at 62 per cent. Six in ten people are also worried about the impact of the current fuel crisis, while 54 per cent of people admitted they are concerned they could catch Covid.  

Bridget Williams, Ipsos Mori’s research director, said: ‘Despite Boris Johnson’s plans to ”save Christmas”, the majority of people are currently concerned about the impact of all these crises on Christmas this year. As well as likely shortages of food, drinks and presents to buy, there are concerns about a squeeze in household incomes with rising prices, particularly amongst women and families with children.’

Asked about inflation having the possibility to eat up wage rises, he said: ‘Actually I think that people have been worried about inflation for a long time and it hasn’t materialised.’

Pressed if he is not worried about inflation, he said: ‘I believe that supply will be encouraged, and we want to encourage people to invest in.’

Mr Johnson told GB News: ‘It’s not the job of government to come in and try and fix every problem in business and industry.

‘We have fantastic supply chains in this country, fantastic logistics, there is a problem of demand.’

He said in the haulage industry has depended on low wage workers migrating to the UK to work under tough conditions.

Mr Johnson said that just 127 of the 300 visas for tanker drivers to come to the UK immediately have been granted.

‘What we said to the road haulage industry was: ‘Fine, give us the names of the drivers that you want to bring in and we will sort out the visas, you’ve got another 5,000 visas’,’ he said.

‘They only produced 127 names so far. What that shows is the global shortage.’

The Department for Transport later clarified that of the 127 visas issued, 27 were for fuel tanker drivers and the remaining 100 were for food hauliers. 

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, the premier said: ‘The supply chain problem is caused very largely by the strength of the economic recovery.

‘What you will see is brilliant logistic experts in our supermarket chains, in our food processing industry, getting to grips with it, finding the staff that they need, we will help them in any way that we can.

‘But the shortage is global.’

He went on: ‘What you can’t do is go back to the old, failed model where you mainline low-wage, low-skilled labour – very often very hard-working, brave, wonderful people – who come in, working in conditions that frankly are pretty tough and we shouldn’t be going back to that.’

That had led to a situation where there was not investment in the industry and ‘people had to urinate in bushes’ because of the lack of facilities for drivers, he said.

Mr Johnson told LBC: ‘I sympathise very much with the frustrations of people who have been queueing for petrol. I really, really do.

‘I understand how infuriating it is when you can’t get petrol at the pumps, but I must repeat that this has overwhelmingly been a problem of demand, not supply.’

He added: ‘What I am getting at is that the tanker drivers, the lorry drivers, they have got more than the average week’s supply to the pumps for the last few days, and that is the situation.’

He also said: ‘I think even the Petrol Retailers Association have been saying that the situation has been improving markedly.

‘What you are seeing is the UK economy coming back into life, really sort of stretching its legs, starting to move again, and of course there’s been a bit of creaking here and there because we haven’t had such activity in a long time.’

Mr Johnson played down fears over spiralling inflation, saying the tackling underlying productivity problems was the way to ‘fix’ rising prices. 

He said the market would address current demand-led shortages and the shift away from fossil fuels would have a long-term effect on energy bills.

‘This Government is going to fix it for the long-term by making investments in renewable power that we can rely on in this country,’ he said.

Mr Johnson added: ‘This Government is doing the difficult, long-term things. We got Brexit done, which was a very difficult thing to do, and we are now going to address the big, underlying issues that face the UK: long-term lack of productivity, long-term lack of investment in energy and infrastructure.

‘We are going to fix that.

‘That will have a big downward pressure on costs and that is the way to tackle inflation.’

He also defended ending the £20 a week boost to Universal Credit, arguing the taxpayer should not subsidise low wages. 

‘I understand that people feel times are difficult at the moment because we have got an economy that’s coming out of a very tough period with the Covid pandemic and it’s growing strongly now,’ he said.

‘We’ve got the fastest economic growth in the G7.’  

However, Mr Johnson’s relaxed attitude on inflation is not shared by all his top team.

One Cabinet minister told MailOnline the Bank of England is ‘complacent’ on inflation. 

‘They should be unwinding quantitative easing now, before acting on interest rates. They could try reducing it a back and gauge the reaction,’ they said.

‘It might push the pound up, but that is not a bad thing as the pound has been falling and it would help reduce inflation.’

And there is increasing frustration from many sectors about his failure to step in. 

As well as an estimated shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers, businesses from meat producers to retailers have warned of empty shelves if the shortages are not addressed.

Boris Johnson pictured writing his Conservative Party conference speech at the Midland Hotel in Manchester today

Boris Johnson pictured writing his Conservative Party conference speech at the Midland Hotel in Manchester today 

 

The premier also tried out a hydrogen car as he was shown around the stands at the conference centre yesterday

The premier also tried out a hydrogen car as he was shown around the stands at the conference centre yesterday

Go to the office if you don’t want to be ‘gossiped’ about, says PM 

Boris Johnson warned Britons working from home that they risk being ‘gossiped about’ and missing out on ‘stimulus and competition’ unless they return to the office. 

The PM voiced growing confidence that Covid will not spark further lockdowns as he urged people to get ‘back to work in the normal way’.

He said the government was always ‘humble in the face of nature’ and recognised that ‘a new variant or another pandemic could always hit us’.

But he insisted: ‘The data that I see at the moment is very clear that we are right to stick to Plan A, which is what we are on.’

He said getting back to offices was ‘essential for young people in particular’. 

‘If you are going to learn on the job, you can’t just do it on Zoom,’ he told LBC radio.

‘You have got to be able to come in, you have got to know what everyone else is talking about – otherwise you are going to be gossiped about and you are going to lose out.’   

 

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) disagreed with Mr Johnson’s comments over the Government asking for names of European lorry drivers they want to work in the UK.

Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the RHA, said: ‘There isn’t a database of lorry drivers with names attached to them and want to work in Britain that British lorry firms can tap into and say: ‘We’ll have that one, that one, that one or that one’. It doesn’t work like that, it doesn’t exist.’

He added: ‘Why would you give up a well-paid job in Europe to come and drive a truck in Britain for a very short period of time when you have to get a six-month let on a flat and go through all the hassle, initially to be chucked out on Christmas Eve, but now, we’re told, for a bit later?

‘It is not an attractive offer and, effectively, what Europeans have done is kind of vote with their feet on that.’

Rhys Schofield, managing director at Peak Mortgages and Protection in Belper, Derbyshire, said: ‘A lovely bit of buck passing from the government. Whilst the government can’t be expected to solve every problem, it is surely the government’s responsibility to fix the problems that they create.

‘A poorly implemented Brexit and general lack of any coherent plan in anything they do just makes life more difficult than it needs to be.

‘It’s easier to make a video stuffing your face with chips to distract the electorate than actually solve problems of your own making.’

Ali Capper, executive chair of the trade body British Apples and Pears, who also runs a hop and fruit farm, said: 

‘Like all British apple and pear growers, staff are short this year. On our own farm we’re running 10 to 15 per cent short of the numbers we need, but I am speaking to farms that are 30 or 40 per cent short of staff.

‘It’s a combination – Brexit, Covid… but really what we need are sensible policies put in place. We have the seasonal workers scheme for our sector. This year it’s bringing 30,000 workers. There is no doubt that needs to be expanded, probably doubled, and we need the number of permanent operators increased as well.’ 

A spokesperson for the British Meat Processors Association said: ‘The current supply chain issues are systemic and long term, but we have an immediate and worsening short-term labour crisis right now.

‘The problem requires both short and long-term solutions in order to allow industry to adjust to the realities of the post-Brexit labour market, which were only made clear once the Brexit deal was finally signed at the end of January 2020. 

‘Such solutions were presented to the Government in October 2020 by the Migration Advisory Committee, however the Home Secretary, Priti Patel rejected all the recommendations.

‘Contrary to recent claims, we are not asking for a return to free movement, nor are we asking Government to fix the problem for us. 

‘What we are actually calling for is a short-term pragmatic use of the UK’s new-found immigration controls to plug workforce gaps immediately, while we work on the longer-term solution.

‘Industry is already working hard on the longer-term solution with a combination of recruitment and investment in technology. 

‘As an example, one company alone has been investing around £100 million per year for the last five years on new technology and equipment, and this is being replicated across the industry.

‘Regardless of how high wages rise and how many people join the industry now, a new recruit takes eighteen months to become a fully trained butcher. 

‘And we need approximately 12,000 trained butchers right now in October 2021.

‘Government knows that the only practical way to plug the current gap in workers is to bring in fully trained migrant workers while UK workers are being recruited and trained-up. 

‘This is not free movement. It is an Australia-style controlled immigration policy to fix a short-term labour problem.’

Mark Reynolds, chief executive of construction company Mace said: ‘It’s constantly a challenge (to get workers) and it’s not helped through the effects of Brexit and the current fuel situation, getting people to work, is making things more difficult.

‘I think we pay pretty well as a sector – the average salary for a construction professional in the UK is in excess £44,000 a year and in London is excess of £50,000. So I think the industry pays pretty well compared to most and has great opportunities.’ 

Gary Parsons, of HR consultancy Talk Staff, said: ‘Great leaders take the blame and pass on the credit, not point the finger and ignore the support being asked for. 

‘SMEs account for 99.9 per cent of businesses in the UK and with the right support, government leadership and industry interventions they could be the answer to all of Boris Johnson’s problems.’  

It comes as it was revealed that panic-buying Britons are already stockpiling for Christmas, with budget retailer Aldi selling 1,500 frozen turkey crowns a day and pudding sales up 45 per cent as families hoard as much as £2,000 worth of food for the winter holiday amid a supply chain crisis. 

Industry experts have been warning Britons to buy their Christmas dinner in advance and even keep it in the freezer as fears grow over supermarkets running out of festive items including pigs in blankets and other party foods in the run up to December 25.

A shortage of butchers could mean that farmers will be forced to ‘throw pigs in a skip’ because they can’t be slaughtered and carved – with 150,000 animals under threat of being culled in the next week. 

The meat crisis is compounding woes caused by a lack of HGV drivers, availability of fuel at petrol stations and labour shortages that could lead to a lack of choice this year, with many essential Christmas gifts and foods scarce or missing completely. 

And with Cabinet Ministers failing to reassure people that supermarkets will be fully stocked this Christmas, and Boris Johnson even insisting it’s ‘not the job of government to come in and fix every problem’ when quizzed about the supply chain crisis, families are now taking matters into their own hands by stocking up on anything with a shelf life just in case. 

Staff from supermarket chain Aldi told consumer journalist Harry Wallop at a Christmas showcase that frozen turkey crowns are already 1,500 a day and pudding sales are up 45 per cent on last year. The retailer also revealed that 250,000 ‘Chocolate Orange bombes’ have been ordered from its supplier in anticipation that the dessert is likely to be Aldi’s biggest hit this Christmas. 

Marks and Spencer said sales of their frozen Christmas food have rocketed by 500 per cent in total on last year as families stockpile, with more than 25,000 turkeys sold by the start of October and sales of their party food growing by 40 per cent per week. 

Iceland revealed this week that people have already begun filling up on festive frozen food, with turkey sales up by 409 per cent compared to this time last year while the the word ‘Christmas’ reached over 17,000 searches across its website in the past week alone 

And Tesco executives have reportedly warned the Government that it is worried about panic-buying in the run-up to Christmas being ‘far worse’ than stockpiling that took place at the start of the pandemic last year, according to trade magazine The Grocer.  

Desperate to ensure Christmas is normal this year after the chaos of Covid last year, single mother Pat Smith, 26, has splurged £2,000 on food already, clearing shelves at six supermarkets and grabbing 24 multipacks of crisps to her overflowing trolley rather than just one. 

She told the Sun: ‘I don’t want to miss out. I’ve planned and I’m ready. I am buying what I need for the next four months including Christmas Day. Last year’s lockdown hit me hard. I ran short of items and couldn’t get to the shops regularly. 

‘When I did, the shelves were empty. As Christmas approached, I was devastated my family wouldn’t have everything they needed. I couldn’t get a turkey or the special ingredients I use to make the stuffing. My family’s favourite drinks were either too expensive due to price hikes or not available. I ended up serving cold chicken and ham with salad.’ 

With fears that supermarket shelves will be empty this year, the ongoing supply chain crisis threatens to wreck yet another Christmas after last year’s festive season was cancelled due to Covid restrictions and surging infections and deaths.

It comes as Ipsos Mori polling reveals panic-buying, the energy crisis, a shortage of HGV drivers and fuel are some of the biggest concerns Britons have about this winter, with 54 per cent of families worried they can’t afford Christmas this year. 

One shopper shared this image with MailOnline of all the Christmas treats she's been buying in advance. Gilly Morgan said she's so far spent around £500 on her Christmas food shopping in case supermarket shelves are empty in December

One shopper shared this image with MailOnline of all the Christmas treats she’s been buying in advance. Gilly Morgan said she’s so far spent around £500 on her Christmas food shopping in case supermarket shelves are empty in December

Britons were warned that a 'nightmare' Christmas is looming as the growing list of items set to be in short-supply come December 25 stretched to include pigs in blankets. Turkeys, drinks, toys and furniture will also be hard to get

Britons were warned a ‘nightmare’ Christmas is looming as the growing list of items set to be in short-supply come December 25 stretched to include pigs in blankets, hams and party foods. Turkeys, drinks, toys and furniture will also be hard to get

Richard Harrow, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation, said: ‘Frozen food sales grew rapidly during the pandemic and we are now seeing evidence of a growing awareness of frozen food’s quality, convenience and ability to reduce food waste.’

James Withers, of Scotland Food & Drink, told the Independent that families should ‘plan ahead’ and freeze what they can as early as possible to avoid having missing ingredients to a traditional Christmas dinner. 

‘Ultimately, now I think we have just run out of time,’ he warned. 

‘I don’t think there is anything that can be done now to get the Christmas trade where it should be. That’s despite warnings being sounded since the summer of the scale of the potential labour shortage we might face.’ 

Polling shared with MailOnline by Ipsos Mori indicates that panic is sweeping the nation, with 75 per cent of people stating panic-buying was something they were worried about affecting their Christmas negatively, closely followed by the energy crisis (70 per cent). 

A lack of HGV drivers to deliver food, presents and other goods was also of serious concern (68 per cent), followed by inflation at 62 per cent. Six in ten people are also worried about the impact of the current fuel crisis, while 54 per cent of people admitted they are concerned they could catch Covid.  

Bridget Williams, Ipsos Mori’s research director, said: ‘Despite Boris Johnson’s plans to ”save Christmas”, the majority of people are currently concerned about the impact of all these crises on Christmas this year. 

As well as likely shortages of food, drinks and presents to buy, there are concerns about a squeeze in household incomes with rising prices, particularly amongst women and families with children.’

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is expected to use his Tory conference speech today to encourage a return to the workplace.

‘He believes very strongly in the value of face-to-face working,’ a senior source told the Daily Mail. ‘It is critical for the training and development of young people. How can you learn a new job on Zoom?’ 

Mr Johnson launched an ill-fated attempt to get office staff back to their desks last year, which was wrecked by the emergence of the second wave of Covid.

Scientific advisers have pressed him not to repeat the exercise this year because working from home is one of the most effective ways of slowing the spread of the virus.

Instead the Government left it up to employers to encourage a ‘gradual return to the workplace’.

But a second Tory source said ministers were now hopeful they would not have to issue another work from home order this winter.

‘You can never rule anything out with Covid,’ the source said. ‘But we are now in early October and hospitalisations are still running at manageable levels.

‘We are not at the point of anyone thinking about Plan B.

‘Even if we get to that point, it would start with things that cause relatively little disruption, such as mandatory masks and Covid certification.’ 

How to survive the big squeeze: Bills and prices are soaring, but don’t panic! Here personal finance experts share top tips for making crucial savings

ByBen Wilkinsonand Amelia Murray For The Daily Mail

Back to basics

After the pandemic disrupted our spending and saving habits, now is a good time to draw up a fresh household budget.

Our survey found that of those households cutting back, more than half were saving by not spending on luxuries such as eating and drinking out.

Three out of four said their cutbacks should be enough to keep them from struggling with money.

Laura Suter, head of personal finance at investment broker AJ Bell, says: ‘If you’re facing a fall in income or rising bills — or a toxic double whammy — then you need to get a grip on your finances and look at what you can afford.

‘It’s not a particularly pleasant job but it’s essential to avoid getting into financial strife further down the line. You need to look at what you have coming in, after tax, then list everything you’re spending in an average month.

‘Once you’ve listed it all, it will be clear whether you can afford your lifestyle or if you need to make cutbacks.’

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at investment service Hargreaves Lansdown, adds: ‘The huge benefit of having everything written down like this is you can see where you’re spending money and not getting an enormous amount out of it, which will help you identify the best ways to cut costs.’

She says you will need to identify the bills you are overpaying for. And while there aren’t many cheap energy deals at the moment, you can still save on everything from car insurance to mobile contracts and broadband packages. 

The money expert also suggests cancelling direct debits you don’t get enough out of — gym membership or subscriptions, for instance. And finally, avoid impulse purchases by waiting an hour or even a day before you buy something.

Homemade lunch saves £30 a week 

Lunching for less: Emma Thomson is making her own soups

Lunching for less: Emma Thomson is making her own soups

Emma Thomson, 32, has replaced monthly salon trips to get her nails, eyebrows and eyelashes done with doing her own treatments, saving herself £65 a month.

She has also stopped buying meal deals and juices for lunch every day, boosting her income by another £30 a week, in favour of making her own soups by the batch that last for days.

Emma, who makes personalised gifts for a living, has been hit by rising business and living costs, which is why she has had to make savings where she can.

During the pandemic she saw her import duty and postage costs increase, which prompted her to tighten the purse strings.

Emma, who lives in Essex, says: ‘There is nothing you can do about it so you just need to find ways to cut back.’

Shop cheap 

Shoppers have been warned that food prices are going to rise thanks to the supply chain crisis.

Yet Andrew Hagger, expert at personal finance site Moneycomms, says thinking about what you spend at the supermarket can lead to big savings. 

He says: ‘Food shopping is where a lot of money is wasted — use up stuff that’s in your cupboards and freezer. 

‘Always plan your meals for the week, make a list and stick to it.’ He also suggests shopping at budget stores Aldi or Lidl.

Research by industry magazine The Grocer last month found Aldi to be the cheapest supermarket, with an average trolley of goods costing £45.12, compared to £51.32 at Asda and £70.18 at Waitrose.

Ms Coles adds: ‘We all swear by certain brands, but it’s worth downshifting at the supermarket to own-brands or budget alternatives to see if you notice the difference.

The most expensive brands will be at eye level, where you’re naturally drawn. Before you pick anything up, check the top and bottom shelf for a cheaper alternative.’

Meanwhile, Rebecca O’Connor, head of pensions and saving at Interactive Investor, says there’s money to be saved by bulk buying, explaining: ‘Always look for the cost per 100g or 1kg rather than offers like ‘three for two’.’

Sort Christmas now

There are fears that the supply backlog might mean we cannot get our hands on turkeys and Christmas presents later in the year. 

However, there are still 11 weeks to go, so you have plenty of time to get everything in order for the big day.

Ms Suter says: ‘Try to work out how much you think Christmas will cost, then you can start setting aside a small amount each week to save for presents or food.

‘Hosting Christmas and buying all the food for family can feel a bit daunting. But you can make a list of non-perishable items and, starting now, add a few to your weekly shop in the run-up to the 25th to help spread the cost.’

Ms Coles says if you start shopping now, you can save on presents: ‘Take advantage of one‑day sales. Of course, this includes Black Friday, but if you want something from a specific store, it’s worth following them on social media and joining any clubs or newsletters they offer, so you’ll find out about their flash sales, too.’

She suggests using the CamelCamelCamel online price tracker which shows you historic deals on Amazon so you can see if you are getting a genuine bargain.

She also recommends using a cashback website such as TopCashback or Quidco to make extra money when shopping as normal, and also searching the internet for discount vouchers at that particular retailer. 

Current offers include up to 14.45 per cent off at department store Harvey Nichols or up to 25 per cent off at Currys PC World.

I’m letting a room to pay the bills 

Lodgings: Naomi Bennett has been letting out her spare room to make ends meet

Lodgings: Naomi Bennett has been letting out her spare room to make ends meet

Naomi Bennett, from South London, has been letting out her spare room to make ends meet.

And she is now considering renting out her own room and sleeping on the sofa to cover rising energy costs.

Naomi, 39, has also increased the nightly rate from £25 to £30 for her spare room.

She says she’s not a big spender — some of her clothes are a decade old — which makes it difficult to cut costs.

She says: ‘I’ve been shopping at Iceland for frozen meat to save money on fresh food. I’m not sure it is enough but I’ve cut back everywhere I can. 

‘It is worrying. I’ve also got my blankets and hot water bottles to hand so the heating doesn’t need to come on.’

Naomi, who runs a video streaming platform, has also had to take on a consultancy job to keep afloat, but it means she is now juggling both roles and working more than 60 hours a week.

She says: ‘You can’t even shop around so you have to cut costs or find extra income. I’m lucky I have a spare room and am healthy. 

‘But I worry about older people such as my dad who could get ill if they try to cut costs by turning off their heating.’

Save your energy

The energy crisis means households can no longer save money by switching tariffs using a price comparison site.

So for now, the best way to save money on your bills is simply by using less energy.

Ms Coles suggests turning down the thermostat by one degree, not overfilling the kettle, turning appliances off rather than leaving them on standby, switching to energy-efficient LED bulbs and fitting draught-proofing to windows and doors.

By switching your thermostat off ten minutes earlier, you’ll save five hours of heating every month, or around £5, Mr Hagger says.

Ms O’Connor says her family have started batch-cooking for the week on a Sunday, when they make banana loaf cake for lunchboxes, stews and curries.

She says cooking like this will save energy on oven use if you use a microwave to reheat meals, and it will save costs on recipe book food which can involve expensive ingredients

She also recommends: ‘Some people who have traditional fires are bulk-buying wood for fires to avoid reliance on gas central heating.

‘This might be cost-effective if it means you are keeping the heating off in other rooms. Bleed your radiators and also switch them off in rooms you aren’t using and close the doors to keep heat in.’

Find a fuel fix

The petrol crisis has made some households think twice about their car use. And our experts say savings can quickly be made by easing off on the fuel you use.

Mr Hagger says: ‘Don’t use the car for non-essential short trips — consider walking or cycling as it is cheaper and better for your health. 

If your car has an economy or efficiency drive mode then use it more. It may reduce the performance of your car but will lower your fuel costs.’

Sharing lifts to and from school or work also means you’ll save half the cost of petrol, says Ms O’Connor.

But it might be too soon to consider an electric car. Ms O’Connor says: ‘The surge in demand for electric vehicles may now be reflected in their price, so it might not be a cost-effective switch since the fuel crisis started. It may also be harder to get a good price for a petrol vehicle.’

Tightening my belt for 6 months 

Cutting back: Counsellor Sam Robertson has swapped eating out for nights in

Cutting back: Counsellor Sam Robertson has swapped eating out for nights in

Counsellor Sam Robertson has swapped eating out for nights in due to Britain’s uncertain financial future.

Sam, 47, has lived through two recessions that she says are always in the back of her mind. It is why she is being careful with her money — because of the uncertainty.

She says: ‘We used to go out for dinner once or twice a week — and we were lucky to do so. Now we may get a steak from Waitrose if it’s on offer.’

Sam, who lives in East Sussex, also doesn’t stray far from home to keep travel costs down and uses cashback site Kindred when shopping online, earning around £400 in the past few months.

She says: ‘After Freedom Day it was nice to go to the pub — but not every day. I think it will be at least six months before we can be more carefree with our spending.’

Use spare time

If you cannot bear to make any more cutbacks, you could always bring in some more money.

Ms Suter says: ‘You could use your spare time to start a side hustle. Perhaps you have a hobby or skill that you could turn into a money-making plan, or you could take on an extra job in the evenings or weekends.

‘If that doesn’t appeal then use this as an opportunity to sort out your house and sell things you no longer need. There are lots of websites that make this process pretty easy, and it can help declutter and boost the coffers at the same time.’

Rachel Springall, from finance data analysts Moneyfacts, points out that you can earn free cash by switching bank accounts.

She says: ‘At the moment, HSBC will pay £110 cash plus provide a £30 Uber Eats voucher when bank customers switch to its Advance Bank Account, plus there is no monthly fee to pay.

‘While this is very tempting, it’s important that consumers look at all the features and charges to ensure it’s the right choice for their day-to-day banking needs.’

She also suggests using the Stocard smartphone app which stores all your loyalty cards in one place so you don’t miss any points or offers.

Get free help

There’s no shame in claiming every penny of support you are entitled to get from the Government.

Ms Suter says the charity Citizens Advice is a good place to start: ‘The benefits system is headachingly complicated to navigate, but there is lots of help you might not be accessing, like help paying energy bills in the winter or money towards childcare costs.’

Ms O’Connor adds: ‘If you are paying for childcare, are you always using the tax-free childcare scheme to pay for it?

‘Have you claimed relief for working from home during the pandemic in this year’s tax return? Are you eligible for any credits or allowances, such as Carer’s Allowance, that you aren’t claiming?’

You can find out about benefits you could receive at entitledto.co.uk.

The Government also last week announced a £500 million Household Support Fund for struggling families. The money will be available from this month in England through your local authority.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme also offers up to £140 off energy bills for struggling households.

Build a safety net

Once you have your finances in better shape, it is time to think about creating a savings safety net in case you hit hard times.

Ms Suter says: ‘If you know you’ll have spare cash each month then automatically transfer it into a savings account on payday to stop it being spent.

‘Setting a savings goal is always a good idea, whether it’s a specific amount of money or a particular thing you know you’ll need to pay for. Having a target in mind can help you get into the habit and stop you dipping into your savings pot.’

If you save routinely you can access some of the better interest rates in the savings market by opening a regular saver account. 

The top rate is currently 3.5 per cent from Skipton Building Society — much better than the poor rates of as little as 0.01 per cent currently offered on easy-access accounts.

Ms Coles says if you’re lucky enough to get a pay rise, you could consider saving that before you get a chance to spend it.

She says you should also check the small print of your savings account, adding: ‘If you miss payments in some instances, your interest rate plummets.’

Ms Springall, from Moneyfacts, suggests using the auto-savings app Chip. She says: ‘Chip works out how much money users could save and sends a text message as a notification before transferring the cash to a separate pot. 

‘Users can even see how long it would take them to save towards a certain goal, making it effortless to start building a savings fund.’

b.wilkinson@dailymail.co.uk

What are the higher costs coming down the track for Britons over the coming years? 

National insurance rise – from April 

The rates of national insurance are due to be pushed up by 1.25 percentage points from April, in a move that will cost households hundreds of pounds. 

The move will raise £12billion a year, which will initially go on bailing out the NHS and clearing backlogs after the pandemic. However, in the longer term it is meant to be used for social care.

Boris Johnson has promised that no-one will pay more than £86,000 towards their care costs. However, that does not include accommodation and some other costs, with fears of a ‘postcode lottery’ as local authorities set different rules.  

Initially the hike will look like a NI rise on pay slips, but later it will be billed a ‘health and social care levy’. 

Ministers insist it is fairer than other tax options because it falls on business as well as individuals.

To raise the equivalent amount in income tax would require an increase in individuals’ tax of 2 percentage points.

A typical basic rate taxpayer earning £24,100 will contribute £180 in extra NI in 2022/23.

A higher rate taxpayer earning £67,100 will contribute £715. For the first time, the NI will be charged on people working over the state pension age of 66.

Universal credit – £20 uplift ends 6 October 

The Government introduced a temporary £20 increase to universal credit payments in response to the pandemic in April last year, but the scheme is set to officially end on 6 October. 

Close to six million people currently claim universal credit, almost double the three million before the pandemic, with almost 40 per cent of them classed as being in employment. 

Thanks to the boost, a single person aged 25 or over has gone from earning £317.82 to £409.89 a month, a difference of £23 a week or £1,104.84 a year.

In that case, the £23 a week boost made up more than a fifth of the amount they were paid. 

Citizens Advice has warned that a third of people on universal credit will end up in debt when the uplift is removed, with the average shortfall set to be of around £50 a month. 

Research by another charity, Turn2us, has found that over half of people on universal credit will struggle to pay their bills when the cut comes into effect, with a further one in four unable to afford their rent or mortgage payments. 

‘Due to the way Universal Credit is tapered as earnings increase, it’s not just a case of people picking up an extra couple of hours of work to help fill the gap, instead they will likely have to make tough decisions about what to pay for and what to cut from the household costs,’ notes Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell.

‘Anyone who will be hit by the cut should check they’re getting all the benefits they’re entitled too – Citizens Advice is a good first port of call for help navigating the system.’   

Thomas Lawson, chief executive at Turn2us, said: ‘The £20 per week cut to Universal Credit was already going to leave many families struggling to keep up with the cost of living. 

‘This, now combined with a sudden surge in energy prices, could spell disaster and plunge thousands more people into financial insecurity or even poverty; especially those of us whose financial resilience has been worn away by the pandemic.’

Green revolution – coming years 

Homeowners are set to be hit with a new environmental tax on gas as ministers try to force them to abandon the fuel in favour of green alternatives.

Climate change levies currently added to domestic electricity, which average £159 per year, are expected to be axed and new payments added to gas to entice people to replace their central heating boilers and cookers.

The move is intended to encourage the take up of heat pumps and other electric alternatives as they seek to make the UK net zero for carbon emissions by 2050.

Ministers insist the change will mean no overall increase to bills and could help increase the take-up of electric cars as it become cheaper to charge them at home.

However critics doubt that will be the case, and the change comes at a time when UK gas prices have hit a record high.

Mr Johnson has also pledged to make all the UK’s electricity supplies ‘green’ by 2030, although again the government argues this will cut prices for households rather than increase them. 

Stamp duty holiday – already over

The full stamp duty holiday came to an end in June, with the nil-rate band – the portion of a property purchase buyers don’t need to pay stamp duty on – reduced from £500,000 to £250,000.

The tax break, which saved buyers up to £15,000 on their house purchases up until then, was cut back, with the maximum saving currently capped at £2,500. 

But from the 1 October, that went too, as the nil-rate band will revert to the normal £125,000.

Stamp duty has been blamed for pushing house prices higher over the past year, with many experts anticipating a drop in demand, and hence prices, after its end. 

And demand did indeed fall off a cliff between June and July, with the number of property transactions plummeting by 63 per cent, according to official figures from HMRC. 

But many believe prices will hold up well in the coming months thanks to cheap mortgages and demand continuing to be driven by people looking to relocate to larger homes in the countryside in the wake of the pandemic.

‘While there is likely to be a surge of property purchases pushed through before the deadline and a small drop in the month after, the early signs are that the property market isn’t headed for a large crash – particularly while borrowing is still so extraordinarily cheap,’ Suter said.

VAT reduction – already over  

The reduced VAT rate on food and soft drinks for hospitality businesses was introduced during the pandemic to help out struggling pubs and restaurants, and has been extended a couple of times. 

However, it will now come to a close at the end of the month – and could see businesses hike prices to customers.

On 30 September 2021 the current 5 per cent reduced rate will rise to 12.5 per cent, which will last until 31 March 2022, when it will rise back to the old standard rate of 20 per cent.   

‘Many hotels and restaurants decided to keep this reduction for themselves rather than pass it on to customers, to help shore up their finances post-pandemic,’ said Suter.

‘With food and energy costs rising it has provided a cushion for businesses and may have helped them put off increasing prices. 

‘But once the rate shoots back up it will be another squeeze on margins for businesses and means we’ll probably see higher prices when going out to eat or booking a trip away.’

Energy price cap – from October 1

On top of seeing much of Government support scrapped, many families and businesses are also facing rising energy bills thanks to the energy price cap.  

Some 11 million households on their suppliers’ default energy tariffs will see an increase of £139 a year to £1,277, while bills will also increase by £153 to £1,309 a year for 4 million pre-payment meter customers.  

The increased bills will start from 1 October and last for the following six months until the cap is reviewed again.

‘Usually you’d be far better off getting off your provider’s standard variable tariff and locking in a fixed-rate deal, but the energy market is so barmy at the moment that no one is offering a fixed deal for a cheaper price than the energy cap,’ Suter says.

‘This means everyone needs to face up to rising energy bills, just as we head into the colder months.

‘If your deal has ended you need to weigh up whether you want to secure a fixed-rate deal now, at a higher cost than your current price, with the expectation that you’ll be protected from rising energy prices. 

‘Or you can stick with the energy price cap rate and gamble that recent gas price rises end soon.’

Households struggling to pay their bills can also contact their supplier or ask for help from a debt advice charity.   

Rising inflation and food costs

Inflation fears were fuelled again this month, when the headline CPI rate recorded its largest jump ever in August to 3.2 per cent – with the Bank of England predicting it could soar above 4 per cent by the end of the year. 

Contributing to the rise was a jump in the price of food and drinks, partly as a result of the supply chain crisis gripping the country.

Food and non-alcoholic drink prices rose 1.1 per cent between July and August, and by 0.3 per cent over the year, according to the latest figures by the Office for National Statistics. 

The average price of a pint in the pub across the country could soon pass £4, the ONS said. 

Last year, the average household spent £277 a month on food expenses, but the latest inflation reading suggest this could increase to £285 a month this year, according to analysis by Royal London. 

‘Anyone who has been to the supermarket recently will have noticed that their weekly bill has been rising,’ said Suter. 

‘A combination of shipping issues, driver shortages, supply chain issues and a leap in demand have all lead to a spike in prices – in July we saw the largest monthly rise in food costs. 

‘While you can’t directly combat rising prices, you can reduce your food bill. There are lots of offers out there for using online grocery delivery services for the first time, which can get decent discounts on a shop. 

‘Or you can go back to the old fashioned methods of sticking to your list, meal planning and budgeting.’



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