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‘My wages no longer cover everything I have to pay out due to soaring bills’

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Mags Davies says when her gas and electricity bill went up from £89 to £208 in April, she blamed the bank, but later she was forced to sit down to try and figure out how to bring her expenses down

Mags Davies from Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales

Thousands are expected to march in London today to demand government action on standstill wages and the soaring cost of living.

The TUC We Demand Better rally comes as its analysis reveals working people lost nearly £20,000 in real earnings between 2008 and 2021 as a result of pay not keeping pace with inflation.

And the union body says the pay slump shows little sign of slowing down, with real wages now worth £66 a month less than in 2008 and set to fall this year by more than £500.

The TUC says years of pay stagnation have left millions without a “safety net” and at the mercy of soaring bills and prices. In the run-up to the rally we spoke to people in the South Wales town of Merthyr Tydfil to find out how they are being affected.

All this week the Daily Mirror is traveling the UK, reporting on the cost of living crises and its consequences. Today, we see the suffering in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, and in Hastings, East Sussex.







Merthyr Tydfil town center in South Wales
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Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror)

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

Direct debits for utility costs would leave her online account every month – but in April her gas and electricity bill bounced. At first she blamed the bank but after checking she found her monthly bill had risen from £89 to £208.

“My wages no longer covered everything I’d normally have to pay out,” she admitted. “I was upset, I just didn’t realize things had gone up so much.







Mags said her gas and electricity bill went up has risen from £89 to £208
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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 learning difficulties. Mags, who qualifies for a free bus pass, visits her twice daily, and would rely on the car in an emergency.

She has changed how she does her weekly shop. “I now do my main shop in Aldi,” said Mags, who works for Merthyr Council.







Brits are facing higher bills
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“But I go one week and it’s one 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 in Aldi.”

Unison member Mags takes a packed lunch to work to save money. Previously she would refill a 500ml bottle of Fanta from a two-liter flagon. “Now I buy Aldi’s own orangeade and refill my pop from that,” she said.

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







The Worksop Demands Better event held at Manton Sports Club this week
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Paul David Drabble)

Mags is desperately worried for the autumn when the price cap is due to climb from £1,971 per year to an estimated £2,800. “How are people managing who aren’t working? By Christmas we are going to have major problems,” she said.

Hundreds of trade unionists marked the anniversary of the 1831 Merthyr Rising last weekend, in which the Red Flag was raised for the first time as a symbol of working class rebellion. And campaigners in Merthyr Tydfil looked forward to today’s rally.

Labor’s local Senedd Member Dawn Bowden says demonstrators would “demand better because working people deserve it”.

She added: “They are as entitled to a decent standard of living and way of life as any of the privileged Old Etonian elite.”







Dawn Bowden says demonstrators would ‘demand better because working people deserve it’
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Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror)

National Union of Students Cymru chief Becky Ricketts told how students were using foodbanks. “It is desperate for our young people,” she said.

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

Landscape gardener Dan Inglefield, 30, said: “It’s pretty tough. I must have spent £800 on oil that’s going to last me six, seven months maximum.

“I drive a pick-up truck. It costs me half the money I make just to get to the client’s and back.”

Our Cost of Living team of experts are here to help YOU through a very difficult year.

They’ll be bringing you the latest money news stories and also providing specialist advice.

Whether it’s rocketing energy bills, the cost of the weekly shop or increased taxes, our team will be with you all the way.

Every Thursday at 1pm they will take part in a Facebook Live event to answer your questions and offer their advice. Visit facebook.com/dailymirror/live to watch. You can read more about our team of experts here.

If you have a question – or want to share your story – please get in touch by emailing webnews@mirror.co.uk.

Kirsty Powles, 34, a mum of two who works for a health board, said: “In the supermarket normally I’d spend £100, now it’s costing £150.

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

Daniel Davidson, 30, who lives in B&B accommodation and suffers from ADHD, said: “I’ve started to live on eggs, cheap tuna and 29p noodles.”

The TUC is demanding…

  • A real pay rise for every worker and a real living wage for all
  • Respect & security for all workers: ban zero hours contracts and fire & rehire; decent sick pay now
  • An end to racism at work
  • Real, permanent boost to Universal Credit
  • Boost union bargaining rights now.

JOIN the march and rally today. Assemble from 10.30am at Portland Place, London. March departments at noon. Rally at 1pm.

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