Mum-of-12 fears she won’t ever take her family on holiday due to cost of living crisis

A mum-of-12 has given up hope of ever taking her family on holiday – and fears how she will keep them all warm this winter.

Zoe Sullivan, 44, has already seen her energy bills double despite not having the heating on.

Due to the crippling cost of living crisis, she has already admitted defeat in fulfilling a dream of taking her brood on a sunshine break abroad.

Zoe is married to RAF serviceman Ben, 47, who is winding down a 27-year career, meaning they will soon be faced with having to get a mortgage and moving out of military quarters.

The couple have two sets of twins, Charlotte and Isabelle, 14, and Leah and Erin, aged six.

Eldest daughter Elisabeth, 17, has a job, but younger kids Olivia, 15, Noah, 12, Eva, ten and Toby, nine, look forward to having a Pepsi Max and a chocolate bar on a Friday and Saturday night as a treat, which Zoe does not want to have to give up.

Baby Florence, aged four months, gets own-brand nappies, and Agnes, aged five, has a milk allergy which makes her a fussy eater and is expensive to accommodate.

The couple also have Joseph, aged three, and send six girls to dance lessons, while their oldest son plays football – as well as a cat which costs around £5 a week.

Zoe said their bills have nearly doubled from £240 to £400 a month, despite not using the central heating during the summer, and they have two seven-seater cars – one of which is used by Ben to go to work, while she uses the other for shopping.

The family have not had a holiday in years but live near two beaches in Lossiemouth, Moray, so often go for walks and make do with daytrips.

But they had hoped to take the kids away, although savings for that are now being put into groceries and bills.

Zoe fears bills could increase to £600 a month which would be unaffordable, and said the prospect of winter using blankets rather than central heating was scary.

She shops at Tesco, Adli, Asda, Home Bargains and B&M to find deals, often in the evenings when items are discounted, and spends £320 a week on groceries, which works out at around £21 per person on food.

The family will soon need to find a five-bedroom home which Zoe said was daunting, and she and her husband gave up alcohol and neither smoke.

Stay-at-home mum Zoe said: “The jump in price is huge, we don’t use any more, it’s just the increase in price.

“We have lived in our house nearly ten years, we used to pay around £200 to £250 a month, there’s no way we could afford to pay £600 or £700.

“It is really scary, there doesn’t seem to be any help for people.

“There’s no way we can meet these costs, what we would have put into savings is now going into food and bills.

“I have a budget of £320 a week for everything – food, toiletries, that would probably cover the shopping, some of the kids have lunches at school.

“I always shop around to get the cheapest things I can. We have four teenage girls so that’s stuff like their face washes, but we could get through £6 of fruit a day.

“Fruit and things like that are really expensive, when you find blueberries are £3 and then become £3.50, it’s a big price increase.

“I’m at home all day with the little ones, it gets cold in winter in the north of Scotland.

“We are thinking ‘are we going to have to go around in blankets’. There isn’t any more money to pay any more bills.”

The couple have previously resorted to putting groceries on a credit card but hope to be able to avoid that.

Zoe said it is impossible to avoid using a water heater which runs on gas, and she will have to give up buying Heinz baked beans in favour of own-brand ones unless the situation improves.

She said: “How much deficit are we going to get into if next year it’s £6,000 or £7,000? I don’t think it was as bad in the 70s. It’s all very frightening.

“The kids have never been abroad, I think we always thought ‘one day’, but the money is being spent on just living.

“We have got a big garden and we’re close to two beaches, rather than going on holiday we have family time.

“Six of the girls do dance lessons and our older boy does football, they are their passions, we don’t want to take that away.

“We have got a cat, luckily he doesn’t eat very much.”