Wake-up call: Monthly grocery bill hits Farepak store worker

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Garry, who has worked at a Farepak store for five years, takes a break to see his child

Costs are soaring, leaving some city centre grocery store workers struggling to afford to buy basics.

It’s a story that has happened to even food store assistants like Garry, who wants to call himself just Garry, to protect his identity.

“It’s really difficult these days, we are just scraping by, I can’t even afford to buy a cart of groceries”, he said.

When Garry first started work at the Farepak Supermarket store in north London, he paid £100 every two weeks to buy his own groceries.

“Six months ago things started to get worse. Things are going up, I went and had food prices tested in the store and they were 20-30% higher than we paid two years ago”, he said.

After paying for food and fuel, Garry says that his rent is going up every month, putting his life in “a really difficult place”.

“I’ve got to work hard to get by, it’s really tough”.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption House prices in Britain rose £221 last year, less than inflation

Although his wages have not really risen at all, Garry was unaffected by the payday loan industry that has grown in the past few years, charging large interest rates. The total debt he owes is now £650, making his money stretch to pay just one grocery bill.

Other people affected by high costs are “doing to little for the going rate”, he said.

Even one pound coins are becoming rarer as they’re not enough to fill the smallest supermarket trolley, making things so expensive that he regularly has to fill up his car’s tank.

The months-long discussions between Transport for London and the suppliers over their proposed fare increase have also hurt.

“They’ve not come to a sensible solution, nobody’s solving anything, it’s just going to go back to a really bad situation” he said.

But when asked if he was tempted to use the city’s new fare cut, he looks a little hesitant.

“I’ve got friends who use the Tube who see their wages go up by two or three percent, and that has made a big difference, but I can’t see myself losing out so much, the transport costs for me are such that I would be in a vulnerable position” he said.

He also does not think that sticking to the London Underground would be the best option for him.

“It’s worth the money to get the best network in the country – going to Hyde Park and looking at other areas around London, to see how much time you save” he said.

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