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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, EPARussia’s invasion of Ukraine could cause global food shortages in the coming months, the UN has warned.Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war had worsened food insecurity in poorer nations due to rising prices.The world could face famines that last for years if Ukrainian exports are not restored to pre-war levels, he added.The conflict has cut-off supplies from Ukraine’s ports, which once exported vast amounts of sunflower oil as well as cereals such as maize and wheat.This has reduced the global supply and caused the price of alternatives to soar. Global food prices are almost 30% higher than the same time last year, according to the UN.Speaking in New York on Wednesday, Mr Guterres said the conflict “threatens to tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity followed by malnutrition, mass hunger and famine”.”There is enough food in our world now if we act together. But unless we solve this problem today, we face the spectre of global food shortage in the coming months,” he added.He warned that there was no effective solution to the food crisis without reintegrating Ukraine’s food production, as well as the fertiliser produced by Russia and Belarus, into the global market.War in Ukraine: More coverageMILITARY: Retired colonel speaks out on Russian TVMARIUPOL: ‘I hid below ground at steelworks for 60 days’ANALYSIS: The spy war within the warREAD MORE: Full coverage of the crisisMr Guterres also said he was in “intense contact” with Russia and Ukraine, as well as the US and the EU, in an effort to restore food exports to normal levels.”The complex security, economic and financial implications require goodwill on all sides,” he said.His comments came on the same day the World Bank announced extra funding worth $12bn (£9.7bn) for projects addressing food insecurity. The move will bring the total amount available for such projects to more than £30bn over the next 15 months. Russia and Ukraine produce 30% of the world’s wheat supply and – prior to the war – Ukraine was seen as the world’s bread basket, exporting 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural produce per month through its ports. But since Russia launched its invasion in February, exports have collapsed and prices have skyrocketed. They climbed even further after India banned wheat exports on Saturday. The UN says around 20 million tonnes of grain are currently stuck in Ukraine from the previous harvest which, if released, could ease pressure on global markets. This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.While the number of people facing food insecurity had been growing even before the invasion, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, accused Moscow of making a difficult situation even worse on Wednesday.”Russia has launched a grain war, stoking a global food crisis,” Berlin’s top diplomat said. “It is doing so at a time when millions are already being threatened by hunger, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.”Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the world faced the “greatest global food security crisis of our time” which had been exacerbated by what he called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “war of choice”.More on this storyWorld Bank warns of ‘human catastrophe’ food crisisUkraine war ‘catastrophic for global food’Global wheat prices jump after India export ban

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesMarks & Spencer has written to the chancellor warning that an online sales tax would damage the High Street. A three-month government consultation on whether to introduce an online sales tax closes on Friday. The Treasury said the proceeds would go towards funding a reduction in business rates for shops.But M&S believes a new online tax would “punish” the very retailers it plans to support and leave them less money to invest in High Street stores.The chain’s chief financial officer, Eoin Tonge, argued in the letter that traditional retailers have worked hard to diversify and grow their online sales. He said an additional tax burden would make it harder for them to invest in what is needed to survive and grow in the modern, digital era. Tesco tells chancellor to hit online rivals with sales tax”Introducing an additional tax on retail – already overburdened – will simply mean retailers cut their cloth accordingly,” he said.”This rationalisation will always start with the least profitable parts of a business – which, in the case of multi-channel retailers, will more often than not be High Street stores,” said Mr Tonge. “Therefore it is likely that, far from helping the High Street an online sales tax will damage shops and our high streets further, particularly in areas that require new investment to bring them back to life.”The Treasury has been sounding out the retail industry on an online sales tax since February saying it is keen to hear the arguments for and against, as well as how it could work. It said no decision has been made. OverhaulHigh Street retailers have been complaining for years about the soaring cost of business rates, a property based tax. They tend to pay far higher rates than online rivals who do not have stores to run. They want a complete overhaul of the system, which they say is no longer fit for purpose, threatening the economic viability of shops. Despite widespread calls for a revamp, the Treasury decided last year there was no case for fundamental change. The tax raises roughly £25bn a year. The government said it was reducing the rates burden by some £7bn this year to support the High Street. But it promised to look at an online tax. According to the consultation document, an online sales tax of 1% could raise about a billion pounds per year to help reduce business rates in England. The issue is complicated, however, and retailers are divided on the idea. What counts as an online sale?Image source, Getty ImagesFor a start, there are questions over which goods should it cover, and whether it should be done as a proportion of a retailer’s sales or a flat fee. Then there is the issue of what counts as an online sale. Many people, for instance, order via the internet and then collect in store. Some of Britain’s biggest retailers, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Gregg’s and Morrisons, recently joined forces to launch a “Cut the Shops Tax Campaign” urging the government to reduce business rates to help mitigate rising costs and keep shops open. They also said they’d be “open” to an online sales tax if it funded a reduction in rates to help create more of a level playing field. The debate over how best to tax this sector has become even more intense during the pandemic, said KPMG’s UK head of retail, Paul Martin. “The way we shop has evolved significantly over the last two years with online channels growing the fastest. This has resulted in the need to reconsider how the sector is taxed, with the historic focus on bricks and mortar not timely anymore,” he said.He believes the future for retailers involves having both online and physical stores in a completely integrated model. Therefore the idea of having separate taxes is not likely to solve the problems. Right now all of the UK’s big High Street retailers want the pressure to ease on business rates. The government will soon have to decide if an online sales tax is the right way to do it. More on this storyTesco calls for online stores to pay sales taxM&S sorry after shopper got 100 wrong parcel textsAmazon pays £492m in UK tax as sales hit £20.6bn

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesMinisters are facing growing calls to bring forward large increases in benefits and the state pension which will be paid from next April.Charities want benefits to increase now to help people struggling with the cost of living, particularly energy bills.A well-established system means the annual increase in benefits will match this September’s inflation rate – but will only be paid from April 2023.The Treasury says there are technical constraints in making earlier payments.How the system worksState benefits including universal credit, older benefits such as disability support and jobseeker’s allowance, and the state pension increase once a year, in April, to match the rising cost of living.They are pegged to the inflation rate the previous September, although the state pension can also be linked to higher earnings or 2.5% – known as the triple lock.Benefits and the state pension went up by 3.1% in April this year, to match the inflation rate in September 2021.At present, that is some way behind the rate at which prices are rising, which was at a 40-year high of 9% in April according to the latest official figures.Forecasts suggest the rate of price rises could climb by this September. In turn, that would mean a rise in benefits and the state pension of close to 10% in April 2023.In reality, people are paying higher prices for things now, but will receive higher benefits later.Should the system change?Economists at leading think tanks said there would be little effect on the public finances – and the £250bn welfare bill – if the Treasury decided to bring forward some or all of that increase.”There is pressure on the government to fast-track the rise,” said Robert Joyce, deputy director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, an economic research group. “There has been a reluctance to do something so far.”Image source, Getty ImagesKarl Handscomb, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said that keeping people waiting until next April was “a recipe for more debt”.”The main thing is the need to provide more support for those highly reliant on benefits,” he said. He said some people on the state pension would be among the most vulnerable to rising energy bills in the coming winter.Why has no change been made?There are no plans in the Treasury to increase benefits or the state pension before next April.One of the key reasons for that, according to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, is that the welfare systems involved made it technically difficult to change the uprating and paying of older benefits before April.It is possible to alter universal credit payments relatively quickly, as was done during the pandemic. Other payments such as disability support could take months to change.Mr Joyce said that IT issues were no excuse for inaction. “Even if they need a few months’ notice, that is better than waiting another year,” he said.Mr Handscomb, from the Resolution Foundation – which focuses on people on lower incomes, said: “If they get started now, they can do it before the next energy price rise in October.”Call to halt move to universal credit Student loan interest rate to hit 12% in EnglandHe said that the benefits system was the best way to get money to those who needed it but, even if that proved impossible, there were other ways to help people out. This targeted support could include paying more to aid people to pay their energy bills.The Treasury said such help was already in place.”We understand that people are struggling with rising prices, and while we can’t shield everyone from the global challenges we face, we are supporting British families to navigate the months ahead with a £22bn package of support,” a government spokesman said. “That includes saving the typical employee over £330 a year through a tax cut in July, allowing people on the universal credit taper rate to help people keep more of the money they earn – benefiting over a million families by around £1,000 a year, and providing millions of households with up to £350 each to help with rising energy bills.”More on this storyEnergy bills push price rises to 40-year highWhy are prices rising so quickly?Call to halt move to universal creditStudent loan interest rate to hit 12% in England

As the cost of living rises many hair salons are having to increase their prices. Chain Trevor Sorbie says they’re now spending thousands more each month. Watch the video to find out why and what is driving up prices.Filmed, edited and produced by Samantha Everett & Angela Henshall.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersUS shares have seen their biggest one-day drop since 2020, after downbeat reports from some of America’s biggest retailers added to fears rising prices will send the economy into slowdown.Target said unexpectedly high fuel and freight costs had cut into profits, which halved compared with a year ago.Its report followed a similarly grim update from rival Walmart earlier.Executives said customers were increasingly looking for affordability, limiting plans for price rises.The update sent shares in Target plunging 25% – the biggest decline in more than three decades of trade.Financial markets tumbled on Wednesday amid concerns about the implications for other firms and the wider US economy, which is driven by consumer spending.”What people are worried about after seeing Target is, will more earnings [estimates] have to be taken down?” said Thomas Hayes, chairman of Great Hill Capital in New York. “Consumer sentiment is at multi-year lows and tied at the hip with inflation. So people are looking for signs of inflation moderating, and Target did not give them any today.”Shares fall in Asia and US as interest rates riseAmazon sell-off ends dismal month for US sharesThe S&P 500 index, which tracks shares of a wide swathe of America’s biggest companies, plunged more than 4%, while the Dow Jones dropped 3.5%.The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 4.7%. The falls added to weeks of declines on US financial markets. The updates from Target and Walmart were closely watched for signs of how consumer spending is holding up in the world’s largest economy, as inflation reaches 40-year highs. Official government data recently showed retail sales rose a healthy 0.9% in April, but some analysts have warned the figures may be understating signs of slowdown – especially for lower-income families – since they are not adjusted for inflation.Earlier this year, Amazon reported a surprise drop in online sales in the first three months of the year.Target said sales at stores open for at least a year were up more than 3% in the three months to May compared to 2021. But executives said as prices rise, shoppers are spending more on essentials and cutting back on discretionary items, such as television sets and apparel.It warned investors that costs would be $1bn higher than expected this year, driven by fuel and freight. The firm said it did not see supply chain pressures clearing until at least 2023.More on this storyShares fall in Asia and US as interest rates riseAmazon sell-off ends dismal month for US shares

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesOil and gas producers have hit back at calls for a windfall tax on their profits, saying they are already paying more tax as a result of price rises.Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), which represents the sector, said producers are on course to pay £7.8bn in UK tax this year.That is up from £3.1bn last year. However political pressure is growing for a one-off additional tax to fund support for customers facing higher energy bills.The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has calculated the tax UK fossil fuel energy producers are expected to pay this year to be nearly twenty times the £400m paid in 2020. That year, at the start of the pandemic, prices plummeted and producers sustained losses.But profits have soared this year after sharp price increases in energy prices, prompting calls for those “exceptional” profits to be subject to a windfall levy.The Labour opposition at Westminster has made that a key part of its attack on the government over Downing Street’s handling of the cost of living crisis. Labour took the issue to a Commons vote on Wednesday, which the Opposition lost.During Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said a one-off tax on oil and gas profits “would raise billions of pounds, cutting energy bills across the country”. In response, Boris Johnson said he would “look at all sensible measures” to help families.But he added that the Conservatives were “not in principle in favour of higher taxation”.How would a windfall tax on energy firms work?Windfall tax on energy firms still an optionGovernment ministers have been making the same case as the industry – that an unpredictable tax regime puts off future investment.Companies are also countering the threat of a windfall tax by pointing to their plans to spend on further developments for oil and gas, if they are allowed to, and some are switching their emphasis to renewable energy.Of the two British-based oil majors, BP is pledging £18bn in UK investment this decade, and Shell has between £20bn and £25bn to spend on UK energy production and systems such as vehicle charging networks.Shell has produced a report into tax, which shows that in the most recent year unaffected by Covid the industry’s effective tax rate was 35.5%, while the corporate tax rate in developed countries averages 23.5%.Ministers have recently been pushing for further commitments from energy producers to invest, in response to the calls for a windfall tax. That has put more pressure on the industry to make its case.Deirdre Michie, chief executive of OEUK, has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, warning that a windfall tax could put investment at risk. She said the industry shares the “deep concern” about the impact of rising energy prices on consumers.”We are proud that we are able to help by contributing a predicted £7.8bn in UK taxes this year alone. “Those payments, equivalent to £279 per home, can help the government soften the pressure for households,” she said.”This year is not a one-off. Between 2021 and 2026-27 the OBR predicts our industry will pay around £23bn in UK tax.”The letter emphasised the employment created by the oil and gas industry, and its importance in the transition to renewable energy.”Our industry puts a premium on stability and predictability in the ways it is taxed and regulated,” Ms Michie said.”Tax increases make it more expensive to borrow money for big projects – and that can make them unviable. It’s why periods of fiscal stability are associated with increased investment, whereas sudden tax increases are often followed by decreased investment.”More on this storyHow would a windfall tax on energy firms work?Windfall tax U-turn inevitable, says StarmerWindfall tax on energy firms still an optionShell profits nearly triple as oil prices surge

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersFormer drug firm executive Martin Shkreli, who became infamous for ordering dramatic price hikes of a life-saving medicine, has been released early from prison.Shkreli was serving a seven year sentence, after being found guilty of defrauding investors in 2017.His release became public after photos of him circulated on social media.He has been moved to a halfway house and could be freed completely in September.The move came after he had completed “all programmes that allowed for his prison sentence to be shortened,” lawyer Benjamin Brafman said.Shkreli was convicted in 2017 of lying to investors about the performance of two hedge funds he ran, and stealing from his drugs company Retrophin, to pay them back. He was due to be released from prison in 2023. Previous requests for early release had been denied.The trial followed notoriety Shkreli had gained in 2015, after the company he ran raised the price of the long established drug Daraprim from $13.50 (£10.93) to $750 (£607), which is used to treat parasitic infections. The unpopular move, and his unapologetic defence of it, earned him the nickname “Pharma bro”.Earlier this year, a Manhattan judge also found the move and others he orchestrated to keep competitors from producing the medicine, had violated US competition laws. He was barred from the industry for life and ordered to pay $64.6 million.More on this story’The most hated man in America’?Jailed ‘Pharma Bro’ ordered to repay $64m

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesA New York man has a beef to pick with McDonald’s and Wendy’s: misleading adverts he says make their burgers look much bigger than they actually are.In a proposed class-action lawsuit, he accuses the fast food giants of unfair and deceptive trade practices.He is seeking $50m (£40.3m) in damages for himself and other similarly duped customers.The chains did not comment immediately on the suit, which compiles many complaints from social media. Rival Burger King was hit with a similar lawsuit in Florida in March, by the same law firms representing New Yorker Justin Chimienti. While Burger King has yet to respond in court, an amended complaint shows that more unhappy customers have signed onto the suit.The companies’ adverts are “unfair and financially damaging consumers as they are receiving food that is much lower in value than what is being promised”, the complaints say.The “actions are especially concerning now that inflation, food, and meat prices are very high and many consumers, especially lower income consumers, are struggling financially,” they add.The lawsuit against McDonald’s and Wendy’s says the burgers in the marketing are at least 15% larger than they are in real life. It includes some of the reactions on social media calling out the firms for the discrepancy.”It’s looking a little sad… not like the picture,” one YouTube reviewer, cited in the lawsuit, said of Wendy’s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger. “It’s going to be a small burger folks. I am just telling you straight up what to expect so you won’t be disappointed like me,” said another. In the UK, regulators banned a Burger King ad in 2010, upholding complaints that the chain’s chicken sandwiches were much smaller than advertised.More on this storyOatly ads banned over ‘misleading’ green claimsHow global fast food giants found their Indian soul

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesRishi Sunak is to warn that the next few months “will be tough” after it was revealed prices are rising at the fastest rate for 40 years.In a speech to businesses later, the chancellor will admit he “cannot pretend” it will be easy to cut the cost of living crunch for families.It comes as a think tank said the poorest were being hit hardest by steep rises in energy bills.Households are also dealing with record fuel costs and surging food prices.UK inflation, the rate at which prices rise, jumped to 9% in the 12 months to April, up from 7% in March, the highest level it has reached since 1982.Inflation is the rate at which prices are rising. For example, if a bottle of milk costs £1 and that rises by 9p, then milk inflation is 9%.April’s rise came as millions of people saw an unprecedented £700-a-year increase in energy costs last month. But at the annual CBI dinner later, the chancellor will tell businesses: “There is no measure any government could take, no law we could pass, that can make these global forces disappear overnight.”The next few months will be tough. But where we can act, we will.”He is expected to call on businesses to boost investment and training in order to grow the economy and help ease the cost of living crunch, pledging to cut taxes on firms this autumn in return.Around three quarters of the rise in inflation in April came from higher electricity and gas bills, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).A higher energy price cap – which is the maximum price per unit that suppliers can charge customers – kicked in last month, meaning homes using a typical amount of gas and electricity are now paying £1,971 per year on average.Fuel prices have also surged, with the RAC motoring group on Wednesday warning that petrol and diesel prices have hit new records of £1.68 and £1.81 per litre respectively.The prices of most other goods and services have risen as well, the ONS said, while wages are failing to keep pace with inflation and falling in real terms.Up until now households of all incomes had faced similar rates of inflation, but the poorest are now being hit hardest by rising prices because they have to spend far more of their household budgets on gas and electricity, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said.Retail Economics, a research consultancy, said the poorest people were experiencing a drop of £59 per month in their discretionary spending budgets compared to this time last year. Citizens Advice said “the warning lights could not be flashing brighter” and the government needed to offer households more support, while debt charities urged anyone finding it difficult to pay bills to seek help earlier rather than later in the year.”There are desperate stories behind these figures,” said Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice. “People washing in their kitchen sinks because they can’t afford a hot shower; parents skipping meals to feed their kids; disabled people who can’t afford to use vital equipment because of soaring energy bills.” ‘I can’t do much more’Health analyst Cheryl Holmes, a mother-of-two, said she was trying to keep her living costs “as low as possible” by spending less on food and clothes, and cancelling TV subscriptions.”I’ve already for several years been turning the lights off in each room, setting the heating on a timer, making sure I’m using a full dishwasher and washing machine and I’m running out of ideas. “It’s a battle and it seems like there’s not really much more that I can do.”UK inflation: ‘I’m batch cooking and freezing food’Why are prices rising so quickly?Recession fears grow as rising prices hit spendingThe Bank of England warned earlier this month that the cost crunch could leave the UK on the brink of recession, with inflation peaking at over 10% later this year amid further expected rises in energy bills.The rising cost of living is already seeing people spending less money and cutting down on car journeys due to high fuel costs. And it’s impacting the economy, which shrank in March and risks falling into recession next year, according to the Bank of England.The Bank has raised interest rates four times since December to try to cool prices, but MPs have accused it of not doing enough. This week Governor Andrew Bailey defended its response, insisting inflation was being driven by global forces that limited the Bank’s room for manoeuvre.But the UK now has the highest rate of inflation (9%) of any G7 country, including Germany (7.4%) and France (4.8%).With households under increasing pressure, the government faces growing calls to offer more help.At Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pressed the prime minister to bring in a one-off tax on oil and gas profits, arguing it would raise “billions” to help.Boris Johnson, who has so far refused to back the idea, said he would “look at all the measures” needed to help people struggling with rising bills.He added that the government was “not in principle in favour of higher taxation”. How have prices affected your day to day spending? If you have a small business, how has it been impacted by the price hikes? Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk. 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If you are reading this page and can’t see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at HaveYourSay@bbc.co.uk. Please include your name, age and location with any submission. More on this storyEnergy bills push price rises to 40-year high’There’s not much more I can do to save money’Why are prices rising so quickly?Recession fears grow as rising prices hit spendingWarning of economic downturn as interest rates rise

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingPrices in the UK are rising at their fastest rate for 40 years. Higher energy and food bills, partly driven by the war in Ukraine, are pushing the cost of living up. UK inflation, the rate at which prices are rising, jumped to 9% in the 12 months to April, up from 7% in March.We asked people across the country how they are coping with the rising costs. Why are prices rising so quickly?Energy bills push inflation to 40-year highRecession fears grow as rising prices hit spendingThe family: ‘I’m cutting back on clothes and food ‘Cheryl, 33, lives in a rented house with her husband, nine-year-old son and one-year-old daughter.She said: “Over the last few months especially since April I’ve really noticed a massive increase in my bills.”My salary has remained the same but there’s a little bit less because of National Insurance,” she said. “My energy bill has increased by £52 a month, which is just over £600 a year, so I really notice the difference and then on top of that I’ve got annual increases like car insurance. “I’ve cancelled my Disney Plus tv subscription. I’m trying to keep what clothes we are buying and my grocery spend down, across the budget I’m trying to keep my cost of living as low as possible. I don’t really feel I can do much more. I’ve already for several years been turning the lights off in each room, setting the heating on a timer, making sure I’m using a full dishwasher and washing machine and I’m running out of ideas. It’s a battle and it seems like there’s not really much more that I can do. “She said her main goal is to save towards buying a house and the cost of living crisis was slowing her down.Mrs Holmes, who works as a health analysist, shares her money saving tips on her Instagram account Frugal Me Free.She is concerned about further rises in energy bills in August when the next price cap is set.”It can feel a little bit distressing you feel a bit helpless but I’m just trying my best to stay optimistic.”The student: ‘I’m batch cooking and freezing food’Kira Hayward, 19, from Hull is a second year student at Salford University and rents with her partner Josh.She also works part time for a production company in Manchester. She gets a student loan and the highest grant and pays rent four times a year.”I don’t expect my parents to help me out, they’re not the highest earners in the world and I’d rather be independent,” she said.She said rising food prices mean her money does not stretch as far.”My shopping is £10 more per week, the bread that I have has gone up about 50p,” she said.”I used to shop every week but I do it every 10 days or two weeks now and at the cheaper places and I try and get a big batch of chicken and freeze it all and make sure I split them up and make a batch meal like spaghetti bolognese. It is frustrating that even though I’m putting money aside I’m having to cap what I spend on everything. “I went on Instagram and YouTube and I saw these physical budget binders. I take the money out of the bank and I budget for things like my shopping.”If I know I have £80 in my personal shopping for the month I know I can’t go over that. “Before my student loan came in in April I had £17 in my bank. No savings, no nothing. I felt disappointed in myself. I don’t want to get an overdraft. This has definitely taught me you need to budget.”Ms Hayward has tried to sell things online but has noticed, due to the higher cost of postage, she no longer makes any money from doing this compared to what it costs to post. The retired couple: ‘We’re going out less and cutting back on trips’Mike Gibbons 75 and his wife Ev, 72, are pensioners living in Southampton.They have six daughters between them and while hers live not too far away his are in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Milton Keynes.The rise in petrol prices and energy bills means they’ve had to reduce how often they see their children and grandchildren. Mrs Gibbons said: “They only have little houses so we can’t stay so we have hotel bills and petrol on top of it is a bit of a killer at the moment so we are budgeting and we are not going so often.Mr Gibbons said their energy bills had gone up by £88 a month after their provider PurePlanet went bust and they moved to Shell.He said each 450-500 mile trip to see his family in Newcastle-under-Lyme now cost £25 more in petrol.Mrs Gibbons said: “It’s making it more difficult to see our family on a regular basis because you just can’t afford it anymore the money’s not there. We just can’t see our children as much as we’d like to.”The business boss: ‘We’re trying not to put prices up’Image source, Getty ImagesClive Watson, executive chairman of the City Pub Group, said that despite rising costs, he doesn’t believe that raising prices for customers is the “right thing to do at the moment”. Electricity has more than doubled, while food costs have gone up by around 15% and labour costs have risen by 7 – 8% for the pub chain. Mr Watson said the business, which has 45 pubs across the south of England, was “trying not to put prices up” and had not shrunk portions to cut costs. While menu changes can reduce costs, for instance by offering more pork dishes as it is cheaper than chicken, Mr Watson explained this was “just tinkering at the edges” and “doesn’t disguise” the rapid supplier cost increases. “We are having to take a lot of these costs on the chin which obviously effects the bottom line,” he said. Mr Watson explained that the government had supported hospitality during the pandemic but that his main concern now was its support for his customers. Food and fuel poverty left unchecked he said, meant that people would not be able to afford to go out and spend their money. “There is a crisis in consumer confidence and the government has got to address that,” he said.More on this storyEnergy bills push price rises to 40-year highWhy are prices rising so quickly?Recession fears grow as rising prices hit spending