Christmas 2022 looks like it’s going to be a frugal affair as millions of Britons feel the strain of rising utility bills and food prices.
And one UK waste company has found that up to half of people are planning to give at least one person in their immediate circle of family and friends cash toward paying their fuel bills.
UK waste collection company Divert.co.uk also found that millions are planning to rein in their Christmas celebrations this year, simply because an all-the-trimmings Yuletide is going to be far too expensive for many household budgets.
“From smaller presents to ditching the turkey roast, it’s going to be a money-saving Christmas,” says Divert.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall.
“And the thing that struck us the most is the sheer number of people who tell us that they want to help those who are going to be choosing between heating their homes and having a hot meal.”
The gift of energy
There’s no hiding the fact that millions of families are struggling to pay the bills this year after unprecedented rises to the cost of living. Christmas looks like it’s going to be one with the thermostat turned right down.
And in a survey of 1600 households, 48% said they were already planning to give money to others at Christmas to help them with their bills through the festive season.
“Over and over again we heard the same stories of Christmas cut-backs, and the willingness to share the burden,” says Divert’s Mark Hall. For example:
- Alex from York told us: “My mortgage payments have trebled in the last 12 months and there’s no denying I’m feeling the crunch. But there are others who are far worse than me, so for Christmas both of my grown-up children are going to be getting their electricity bills on me for a while.”
- Lucy from Leeds said: “I’m going to be slipping fifty pounds in tenners through the letterbox of my elderly neighbour. She’s really struggling, and too proud to ask despite always complaining about her house being cold.”
- John in Sheffield: “No turkey this year, no huge tree, no massive presents. But we’re going to give cash to the local food bank inside half a dozen anonymous Christmas cards so people can at least afford a hot meal – I don’t care what they spend it on, everybody deserves a bit of joy.”
Divert.co.uk’s Mark Hall: “That’s the kind of thing that we as a responsible company in the community want to encourage. It even softened my hardened heart, to be honest.”
‘I don’t want to cause a fuss, but…’
The news that people are willing to share what little they have spare comes after a previous Divert survey earlier this year showed that some 93% of senior citizens would refuse financial help from relatives to help them cover their bills.
“This is a fine example of good old British stubbornness of not wanting to cause a fuss for others while you suffer in silence,” says Hall. “And often they’re the people who actually need it the most.”
That being the case, you still have multiple options, say Divert.
- Give them the money anyway – direct into their bank account or onto their utility bill balance if you know the details!
- Give to a charity that will help them, and people in the same straits – a food bank, charities working to alleviate poverty, local groups offering Christmas meals for the lonely etc.
- Get out and do some volunteering. It’s like giving a present to your local community.
And Divert.co.uk notices the first tentative steps toward utility gift cards, a concept the company called for earlier this year.
“One renewable energy company – Ripple Energy – is offering gift cards, but the recipient has to be one of their customers,” says Hall. “It’s a start, but the big companies need to catch on.
“But they’re probably worried that it might not be a great PR move. We think it’s a great PR move.”
With Christmas looking like it’s going to be somewhat smaller than usual, Divert says that the impetus should be on sharing with others less fortunate than you.
“After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?” says Mark. “And with half the country already planning to just that, we’re already on our way.”