LONDON (AP) — Thirugnanam Sureshan maneuvers his wheelchair into the tiny kitchen of his one-bedroom apartment, flips the switch on an electric kettle and brews a mug of instant coffee. It’s his second hot drink of the day, and it will be his last.
The humble countertop kettle — ubiquitous in homes across Britain where a cup of tea is a symbol of welcome, comfort and a break from the demands of a busy day — has become a luxury for Sureshan and his wife, Sridevi, after their monthly electricity bill almost doubled over the past year.
Sureshan, a former airport security guard who is disabled by health problems including a rare foot condition, struggles to stay warm. He is cutting down wherever possible to ensure he can keep the heat on this winter amid soaring prices for electricity, food and gasoline.
“If I don’t keep myself warm, I might lose my life,’’ Sureshan, 50, said at his home in the town of Bexhill-on-Sea in southern England. “That’s the situation.’’
Sureshan is among the millions hoping Prime Minister Rishi Sunak finds money to help them survive Britain’s cost-of-living crisis when the government releases its spending plans Thursday.
The demands are many — ranging from pay increases for nurses and police officers to increased welfare benefits, higher pensions and more funding for free school meals — as 40-year-high inflation erodes families' buying power. And resources are limited, with Sunak facing a budget shortfall of up to 60 billion pounds ($71 billion) that he says will require both tax increases and spending cuts to close.
It comes amid a grim backdrop of slowing economic growth, rising borrowing costs and the lingering effects of a tax-cutting plan by former Prime Minister Liz Truss, which torpedoed the government’s reputation for financial...