Single parent poverty – Sally’s story
Posted 10 December 2019
To mark Election Week, we’ve asked single parents to share their experiences of our key proposal policy areas. Our second blog was written by Sally, a single parent to four children: eight year-old Chester, six year-old Rory, and twins Jenson and Molly, who are four. Here, she writes about her experiences of the current welfare system, and her thoughts on what needs to change.
In July 2018, I wrote an article for the Metro on the Benefit Cap. When the Benefit Cap first kicked in, I couldn’t afford my rent, which left me in arrears. We were evicted from our home and I had to use food banks to be able to feed my children.
We were lucky to be placed in temporary accommodation shortly after being evicted and then offered a council property, but affording rent is still a real struggle because of the Benefit Cap.
One year on
One year on from my last blog and nothing much has changed, unfortunately. I am still in receipt of full benefits, still hit by the Cap and to add extra hardship, my ex-husband has stopped paying child maintenance.
I have gone back to college to study accountancy, but I cannot afford childcare so I can work alongside my studies. The Cap means me and my four children are living on £7 a day after all bills are paid, which is to buy things like haircuts, clothes and day-to-day necessities. We lead a very basic life: no TV packages and no phone contracts, I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, I buy everything I can second-hand – but I cannot stretch the money I have any further to help save towards childcare.
I am aware that you can get up to 70% of the costs back, but unfortunately, everywhere I have enquired needs me to pay upfront. If I could move closer to my family, I would stand a chance, but no one is willing to help so I’ve no chance to move on with my life.
A rock and a hard place
One year on and I am still stuck between a rock and a hard place with no end in sight. I have the desire to work and the want to start supporting my family myself, but not the means to do so with childcare being so expensive. I’ve also been hit hard by the Benefit Cap, which has made things impossible to improve.
Punishing single parents for a relationship breakdown is not the way to motivate men and women back into work. Gingerbread are doing so much to help with supporting families – now the government needs to help also.
As the UK prepares to vote on 12 December 2019, Gingerbread is calling on single parents to make their votes count and ensure single parent families are at the centre of any new government’s approach. Find out how you can make your voice heard.