With families across the UK facing the nightmare of soaring food bills and crippling fuel costs, imagine how difficult life must be for Scotland’s biggest broods?

As electric and gas bills triple and their already mammoth weekly shop rockets in price, Ben and Zoe Sullivan, from Lossiemouth, Moray, who have 12 children, no longer have any expendable income. Then there’s Emma and Roy Hann from Dundee, who are raising 13 kids. They get a shock every time the fuel bill comes in and whenever they go to buy another loaf of bread and discover the price has risen again.

Scotland’s two biggest families feature in a BBC documentary series which captures the highs and lows of raising multiple children in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis. Despite all the economic challenges they face – both families, who do not rely on benefits, said they would not have it any other way, with the Sullivans admitting they would not rule out adding to their clan in the future.

Ben, 47, an aircraft engineer with the RAF, said: “The rising cost of living is ridiculously scary and many people are really struggling and having to choose between heat and food. We consider ourselves fortunate as we can pay the food bill and afford the electricity. These should be basic things and not a luxury, which they have become.

“With the rising energy costs, we have zero expendable income. Our electric has gone up from £240 to £600 a month. Anything we have saved has gone. We got a real scare a couple of months ago when our energy company predicted our yearly energy bill at £35,000 or £4000 a month.

"They eventually admitted they had made a mistake but it gave us a real shock. Our electric bill may not be as horrific as that but it is definitely going to triple every month which is crazy.”

Hann family who are still living at home in Dundee 

Zoe, 44, who gave birth to the couple’s 12th baby six months ago, added: “We are spending around £320 each week on food shopping and the bill just keeps rising. When you go through 14 loaves, 3kg of cereal, 50 bags of crisps and 10kg of fruit and veg in a week, you need to be on your A-game. I try to cook one big main meal a night but everyone has different tastes.

"I try to batch cook but our freezer isn’t big enough to hold everything I would need.”

Further south in Dundee, Roy, 52, an out-of-hours NHS nurse, and Emma, who co-owns a cafe, are feeling the squeeze, despite six of their grown-up children having flown the nest. With their weekly food shop costing four times the average and energy bills mounting to more than their mortgage, the Hanns are bracing themselves for a rough winter.

Members of the Hann family 

Gran Emma, 52, who went back to work 18 months ago to top up her husband roy’s senior nurse wage, said: “We spend £250 every week on food, sometimes more, and then there are surging power bills, petrol and clothes to consider. You see it mostly in the supermarket, where things are more expensive but the packaging is also smaller, so you’re not getting as much for your money

“We are feeling panicked about what the electric bill will be. We were at £270 and went up to £500.”

But the Hanns, parents to Rachel, 31, Sophia, 29, Polly, 28, Charlotte, 26, Alice, 24, Annabelle, 22, Jennifer, 20, Isabella, 18, Jonas, 17, Enos, 14, Eva, 13, Posy, 11 and Meg, seven, would not swap their huge family and the challenges that come with it for the world.

The couple, who were brought up in the Mormon faith but have since left the church, are delighted the BBC ’s three-part series shows the joy of having a big brood. Roy said: “As parents, we fly by the seat of the pants and over the years we have learned it is easier to go with the flow. Emma and I are a good team and we make it work.”

baby Florence
baby Florence 

The Sullivans, who are parents to Elisabeth, 17, Olivia, 16, twins Charlotte & Isabelle, 14, Noah, 12, Evangeline, 11, Tobias, nine, twins Leah & Erin, six, Agnes, five, Joseph, four and Florence, six months, agree with the Hanns.