IN this week’s column, Warrington North Labour MP Charlotte Nichols discusses the rising cost of living.

I AM hearing from increasing numbers of constituents about the cost of energy, the cost of food, the cost of petrol – the cost of living.

But although this is at the forefront of political issues it risks becoming a cliché, so let’s burrow down into what it means in practice.

Households have already pared down their budgets over a decade of austerity, and now that money must go far further. The food campaigner Jack Monroe has done amazing work pressuring supermarkets to restore their budget ranges, but the prices of staple foods have risen more sharply than luxury or choice items. A £20 food shop now buys a third less than it did a few years ago.

In response, families and pensioners have been forced to skip meals, heat their homes on alternate days or cut down on washing and wear soiled clothes. The Trussell Trust has revealed that 'many more people will have no option but to use a food bank' as incomes, pensions and benefits are not matching rising prices and Universal Credit was cut by £20 a week.

One group I am particularly concerned about is disabled people. Costs are already higher for families that run ventilators, electric wheelchairs or stairlifts and for them the impact of electricity rises will be higher still. The Government has given them no additional support and has instead removed the Warm Home Discount from 300,000 disabled people. I can’t understand how this can be right at such a difficult time. Despite my urging it in Questions, the Government does not regularly monitor the impact of inflation on disabled people and does not intend to do so.

These are dark enough times that Martin Lewis has said that he’s out of suggestions, saying: "When you're on the lowest income, the help out there is not enough. There is no way to balance your books.”

However, I do want to highlight some of the avenues of local support available.

The council has been working with the Warrington Food Network to bring the Bread and Butter Thing to Warrington to support local families who are struggling with food insecurity. With hubs in Latchford and Dallam already running, the third hub is due to open in Birchwood later this month. Joining is free and members receive at least £35 worth of quality, nutritious food for £7.50.

If you need further help and support, the Warrington Foodbank, Citizens Advice Warrington, the Warrington Wellbeing Team and Turn 2 Us may be able to help – or please get in touch with my office. I will of course keep pressing the Government to recognise the scale of the crisis and do more to support people.