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COURIER OPINION: One meal a day and rationing toilet paper – grim reality of Fife’s cost of living crisis

Paul Reilly met Anas Sarwar on a visit to Burntisland. Photo: Kenny Smith/DCT Media.
Paul Reilly met Anas Sarwar on a visit to Burntisland. Photo: Kenny Smith/DCT Media.

We talk about the financial pressures facing families so often there’s a danger the words might lose their meaning.

Cost of living crisis, heating or eating. They’re not snappy slogans. For a great many people they’ve become a miserable way of life.

Paul Reilly spelled out the grim reality of existing on the breadline yesterday.

The Fife man says he has trained himself not to eat so he can make do with one meal a day.

His benefits don’t come close to covering his energy bills and he depends on his local foodbank in Burntisland to survive.

The 36-year-old has even been reduced to rationing toilet paper.

Paul Reilly talks to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on a visit to the Toll Community Centre in Burntisland.
Paul Reilly talks to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on a visit to the Toll Community Centre in Burntisland.

It’s a chilling picture of life in 21st Century Britain.

And this poverty isn’t restricted to far-off, run-down inner cities.

It’s affecting people like us, in communities like Burntisland, and doubtless others across Tayside and Fife.

If the cost of living crisis hasn’t impinged on your life to this degree, be grateful.

But no society can escape unscathed from all this human suffering.

And the longer governments ignore demands to put more money into the poorest people’s pockets, the greater the long-term harm will be.

Desperate people don’t need crass advice on budgeting and cooking.

They should not be forced to choose between toilet paper and the one meal standing between them and starvation.

They deserve dignity and a decent household income and Mr Reilly’s plight is evidence of how far our system is falling short.

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