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'Not a single penny of help'

08 Mar, 2024

On Wednesday the Chancellor announced the Spring Budget for 2024. As a single parent living on legacy benefits, there is not a single penny of help for my situation that was announced yesterday, probably also not for many other people, or families, in similar situations.

One thing I think should have been addressed in the speech is the problems faced when claiming Universal Credit, which is far too complicated to understand how to apply and what parts of it any claimant is entitled to claim for. On top of this there is a wait of up to twelve weeks to receive the first payment, which is pushing people into debt in order to survive. There was also no mention about the people like myself living on Legacy benefits, which have not been increased for several years, meaning that I face constant cutbacks every time the cost of everyday goods and services increase as the amount of income I have coming in stays the same.

I will be left continuing to face more cutbacks to everyday expenses, while also facing cutbacks in local services including NHS treatment services and waiting times. The Chancellor did announce that the household support fund would be extended by six months but this is still not enough to help millions of families like my own facing enormous financial struggles in order to survive. This is also not available to all low income families depending on what benefits are received. Disabled people and those suffering from mental health issues, including myself, who need to spend a lot more time at home which increases the cost of daily living, may not be helped by this.

Again this year there has been no increase in the amount claimants of Legacy Benefits receive. As my daughter is now approaching 18, I believe that I will also be forced to move onto Universal Credit, with all the problems around claiming this and the wait for payments.

A few weeks ago I answered a question about how I would cope with unexpected bills, which I had trouble thinking about, but last week the toaster at home stopped working and we do not have a grill on our oven, although I do not use it my daughter does. I had not realised how difficult this would be to replace, as I have reached the final point of being pushed over the edge financially. I don't think I have been considering just how much of a struggle I face supporting my daughter and myself until I was simply unable to replace a basic item for less than £20.

This is not living, when I face such hardship which is affecting the mental and physical health of myself, and more importantly that of my daughter at such an important stage in her life. It can impact the outcome of her future.

There should have been far more emphasis on low income households to help with rising costs that are likely to keep rising, pushing more people into financial hardship. Those with children that wish to return to work or accept more hours need help with childcare and support at work with issues around children and those that are not able to work due to physical or mental health issues should be given enough to provide an acceptable way of life without struggling and worrying about how to keep warm and eat healthy food. Relief from this worry would also help prevent other health problems arising or being made worse.

Real change is needed from a government that is willing to look carefully at the divide between those who have high incomes and those that can barely survive. I am hoping that the spring budget leads to a change in government that is so desperately needed for those living on low incomes.

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