Tagged cheese: Reporter discovers extreme impact of ‘cost of living’ crisis

A local democracy reporter has revealed how some supermarkets are now placing security tags on blocks of cheese — with local civic leaders saying the cost of living crisis is partly to blame.

Richard Price, who works for Stoke On Trent Live as a BBC-funded LDR, revealed that packets of cheese priced at just £2.50 are being sold in enclosed security cases in a crackdown on shoplifters.

Other products — including meat items — are also being sold inside the plastic cassettes at Co-ops in the area which have to be opened by cashiers. A warning on the cassettes states: “Caution. Security device must be removed at the checkout before leaving the store.”

And while the prospect of cheese being tagged by security guards might sound extreme, local experts say that people struggling to make ends meet is a problem which has been several years in the making.

Experts at Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent are ‘not surprised’ that desperate families are now resorting to shoplifting.

Chief executive Simon Harris said: “It’s not something we have had direct experience of but I am not surprised. I think there are an awful lot of people in the city, and we are seeing increasing numbers, who are really struggling to meet their basic day-to-day living costs.

“With the increases in fuel prices, council tax, rent and so on — it’s squeezing household budgets beyond reasonable levels and I think people may find themselves having to resort to extreme measures just in order to survive.

“Poorer families are, and will find it harder to, cover their basic living costs. We’ve seen this building for a while, probably for several years. We’ve seen the usage of food banks increase dramatically.”

The cost of living crisis is increasingly becoming a local public interest news story, as councils find themselves on the frontline trying to help families struggling, despite continuing to see local authority budgets cut.

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