No change in the rising bill struggle
Every Monday morning, Carla Powell fills up with petrol at 7am before driving through the Tyne Tunnel to her job at Burnside Business and Enterprise College.
A few months ago, she could hand the petrol station attendant pound;20 and get enough coins back to cover the pound;1.20 tunnel toll for half the week. Now, she gets no change back at all.
Her fuel bills have risen 30 per cent. Her food bills have risen 40 per cent. And, this month, her base pay rise was 2.45 per cent.
The 25-year-old design and technology teacher did not think about pay when she enrolled for teacher training - she loves her subject. But the pound;22,259 she earns does not go very far. She and her partner, an electrician, have bought a small flat. He pays the mortgage. She pays a few bills, but her parents worry about her debt - the mortgage, her pound;15,000 student loan, her car repayments. "I try to freeze food and not waste anything," she says. "I shop around for the cheapest gas and electricity bills. But it's hard."