I’m receiving £860 Universal Credit but need to private rent alone now as the relationship has completly broken down. I’m wondering if anyone out there is in a similar situation and if so, are you able to cover all your household bills on a similar amount of income with rent around £380 with housing element?
I’m on a council housing list but that will take years I think, what do others do in this situation?
Last summer (2018) when my fixed term job ended I jumped on to UC. Then in Nov of last year I moved into a privated rented house with my son, by which time I had gotten a little job (10 hours per week cleaning job at a local secondary school which soon lead on to working as an Exam Invigilator at the same school, all within easy walking distance so there is no travel costs) so at the end of the month I do end up with more than £860 and yes I do manage just about. I don’t have things like Sky TV, I have Netflix, I have a mob phone contract which gives me lots and lots of data and free calls at a very good price so I don’t use a landline phone. It’s about looking to keep costs down as much as poss and in my case it is doable even tho I get zero support from the person who calls himself dad to my son. As a single parent if I earn more than £280 per month, which I do, UC tend to leave me alone (I’m regarded as needing only a light touch from WC) and let me get on with my life without always having to go in to see WC every other week.
If you’re not currently working, you have some geographic freedom- move to an area with lower rents.
Put all your essential outgoings in a spreadsheet- look at what you can easily live without e.g. Netflix is not a basic necessity! Put those things in a ‘not actually essential’ list, separately from food and heating, etc.. Make reasonable estimates for groceries and clothing, then try to spend less than that e.g. for one month. I found we could get by on spending less than normal, which is still really reassuring today.
Shop around really thoroughly for everything, like bank accounts, utility bills.
Do free stuff with your kid(s) in your community! Take packed lunches everywhere, eat at Foodcycle, do other community based things like borrowing and sharing items from your neighbours. Join a local trading scheme or go to a repair cafe. If you choose shared accomodation it is even easier, you can share the cost of appliances like a vacuum cleaner, toaster or a hairdryer. Having housemates can also be really nice socially, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how many childless people actually enjoy housesharing with a family. Of course it can lower utility bills quite a lot if they are shared.
Apply for Warm Home Discount, Help to Save, concession-rated swimming tickets, etc. There is actually a lot of help available.
Also find some paid work, however small. A few hours a month or a short-term contract is better than nothing.
Good luck- and always remember this is just one season of your life, it’s not forever.
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