“Heat and food are… not treats”

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Hugh Feely (72), a retired chef, no longer uses the storage heaters at his council house in Kinlough, Co Leitrim.

“I couldn’t afford to pay them. He’s a thief,” he said. “I use a 1000W fan heater to heat the bedroom before I go to bed. I close the door, turn on the heat for 10 minutes – as long as I can get the chill out of the air.

“It’s not comfortable, no, but I recently bought myself a garment at Penneys that goes around it. It’s a one-piece suit, and god it’s hot. I have a pair of military socks. Both that my feet, the top of my nose and my ears are warm, I am great. I have a woolen hat that I keep under my pillow and if I am really cold at night, I put it on.

Mr Feely says he can handle ‘a certain amount of cold’ but as he gets older he finds ‘with certain types of cold I am more miserable.

“This wet sticky rain now is playing hell with my arthritis. For some time I have noticed that whether it is due to weather or inflation, I am spending more on electricity.

He used to spend around €25 a week on a prepaid electricity meter, but now he pays around 40% more, or around €35 ​​a week, to power his TV, Skybox, lights, electric kettle and fan heater.

Then there are other increases that have to be covered by his state pension of “about €250” a week.

“I noticed prices starting to go up during the first lockdown – pennies on things.”

Good meat and vegetables

His weekly grocery bill – on food, cleaning supplies and toiletries – has gone up from around €60 to €70.

“I like to eat some meat and vegetables at least twice a week. I don’t believe in organic. I think it’s the biggest rip-off ever, but I do believe in quality food.

Among his treats are bacon sandwiches made with a particular brand of bacon, chocolate bars and chocolate covered Kimberley cookies.

“The bacon has gone up 30c. Chocolate bars have become smaller. A small bar of chocolate now costs €1.32,” he says. “I had a great passion for Kimberley’s chocolate. However, you only get eight in a pack and by the time the kettle is boiled, you’d have three scoffed. You could pass two packs a day with no problem, so I cut them off just to keep the ship on track.

Asked about some commentators’ advice that people like him should “shop around” to make their money work, Mr Feely says he already does and knows exactly how much things cost in each store.

“I have a dog and two cats and for the three containers of pet food I would pay €3.74 in the local store, but for €7 I can get 18 in the big supermarket in Bundoran,” says- he.

“I know where the best value is. I know how to cook. Heat and food are the things people need. These are not sweets. The government has lost touch with what is happening with the people.


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