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Britons turn to ‘lifeline’ pawnbrokers for money to ‘top up their gas and electric’

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Britons have been forced to turn to pawnbrokers to help pay for their energy bills and food, footage has shown. In a mini-documentary released by ITV News, journalist Daniel Hewitt spoke to several women in Birmingham and London who were having to sell “sentimental” jewellery, as well as electrical equipment, such as televisions and headphones, so they could “top up their gas and electric”. One woman said pawning had become a “necessary evil” that made her feel “horrible”. The report comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed that “fairness and compassion” would be at the heart of his Chancellor’s November budget as reports of imminent tax rises begin to frighten already struggling Britons.  

A woman called Stephanie Poll, asked how much she was hoping to make from pawning a pair of white over-ear headphones, said: “Well, I just want a tenner to top up the electric.”

Mr Hewitt said: “Everything has a price, and when the price of everything is going up, some are being left with very few options.” 

He added that during a day visit to a pawnbroker in Birmingham, he saw a “stream of people” exchanging everything from jewellery to electrical equipment for cash just to “buy the basics”. 

Rhiann, who works at Keeley Anns pawnbroker, told Mr Hewitt: “We have seen an increase in people topping up their electric and gas, and people having to pawn to do that.

“We are cheaper than most banks. We do offer a lifeline to a lot of people that would not get any help from any other type of finance.” 

Another woman who visited the pawnbroker said: “It is a necessary evil. You have got to do it.” She later added that she had had to pawn “sentimental” belongings. 

Asked how it felt to have to sell her precious items, she described it as “horrible”. 

Ms Poll, speaking about her use of the pawnbroker, said: “Whatever is in my house, it could be a telly, it could be whatever, I am going to bring it here and get some money so I can put food on the kitchen table.
“I could go to bed without food but my kids, I have to make sure they have something in their stomach.” 

Another woman, Louisa from south London, told Mr Hewitt she could not pay for her essentials, such as gas and electricity, without using her credit cards, and was subsequently falling quickly into debt. 

READ MORE: Are you happy to pay more tax to help pull UK out of recession? POLL [POLL] 

Louisa said: “Sometimes I wake up and I think about food, the kids, bills, rent and I am thinking, how long am I going to be able to do that until I end up in real trouble?” 

As financial difficulties continue to trouble Britons, Rishi Sunak on Monday insisted that the upcoming November budget’s difficult decisions will have “fairness and compassion at their heart” after the Chancellor warned everyone will be paying more tax.

The Prime Minister and Jeremy Hunt are considering allowing local authorities to impose larger rises in council tax next year to raise money for social care, among their tax-hiking measures.

Mr Sunak’s Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said “we’re all going to be paying a bit more tax” as he looks to find up to £60 billion from a combination of hikes and spending cuts.

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