During the past four years belts have had to be tightened by most households up and down the country.
Wages have been frozen whilst inflation has continued to rise together with fuel bills that seem to escalate out of all proportion.
It is too simplistic to say that some families have been reduced to an option of heating or eating.
There are many other variables that contribute to a family’s budget, some essential and others non essential. It is up to each family to decide what they choose to do with limited resources.
Smoking, alcohol, gambling, designer clothes, drugs, debt repayments, I could go on, are all part of the heating or eating equation. We never get the headlines, Smoking or Heating, which is, nevertheless an option in many households.
We seem to have betting shops on every corner and when we turn on our TVs, every other advert seems to be for online gambling, bingo or legal money sharking. 10 years ago we had one national lottery, now we seem to have hundreds, each promising easy money to those who are desperate.
Even breakfast TV offers its morning gamble by asking stupidly easy questions and costing pounds for each attempt. The legal loan sharks, bookmakers, online bingo and gambling companies, tobacco industries and breweries are all making millions from these families who are financially on the brink.
We should look to their profits to provide additional counselling, education and support for those individuals who fall into their traps. The government needs to fully examine how much social benefit money is being wasted on these activities in order to get a grip with the heart of this social problem. There seems to be little or no control on the advertising of these products.
Living on a tight budget is incredibly hard, however most families can and do live within their means. This is mainly down to good household budgeting and avoiding most of the list I have mentioned above.
It would be good to see the Government and charities offering not just further hand outs, which in some cases are essential, but also proper family financial training, with counselling and practical help, together with far tighter controls.