Great news for me. After years of failed applications, I have finally been awarded the basic rate of PIP. After being offered help to work through the form and seek medical evidence it turns out that I had not understood the forms correctly and been completing them wrong. I don't think this extra help is going to directly ease any problems I am facing in my personal life, but it will mean that I can let my daughter use the heating occasionally during the winter months, also enabling me to provide for her in a reasonable way during her final year of A levels. I will now be able to buy some fresher and healthier food to feed her and some suitable warm clothes for the coming winter months. My daughter has always been understanding about how difficult it is being part of a single parent family, but now I feel I may be able to make her life slightly easier.
The dates for the next cost of living payments have been announced for those most in need. But as usual I am stuck in a position that leaves me with no help at all this winter. Claiming Legacy benefits which I receive as a single person despite having a school age child to support, I am not able to claim tax credits or income related benefits, so apart from child benefit we have to struggle with the little we do get that was also not increased in line with other benefits in April. The government needs to look at the situation urgently and make changes. My daughter and I will be forced to survive through winter without the use of heating or lighting and very little warm healthy food. I don't want charity and handouts I just want to be treated like a human being in a safe and fair society.
It will bring serious and multiple issues if benefit rates don't increase next April. We have already been rationing since early 2022. We are still no better off for doing so.
Every household bill has increased beyond a reasonable rate, not just energy bills.
I was forced to replace my vehicle this summer. Paying for it, insuring and taxing it has taken a bigger dent out of my bank balance than anyone on a low income would like.
The money in my bank account is literally the only source of money I have to my name, no pension to think about, no savings to speak of.
This wasn't the way I ever imagined I would be living my life at my age, trying to raise a family single handedly all these years has been incredibly difficult on every level.
It's a depressing prospect. I'm not sure how much more of this cost of living crisis we can take. It's embarrassing to ask for charity, we aren't in debt yet, but that could change overnight at this rate.
I already have an empty fridge freezer. I can't face buying a trolly full of food that will end up going off and in the bin because I forgot to freeze it or our appetites change over the course of the week, or I'm unwell and can't manage to cook or eat anything.
I live with the dread of the landlord selling up or increasing our rent. It's a constant worry.
Nobody can be certain whether there will be funding to help with winter fuel costs, I'm already disgusted by the mould growth on our belongings since we moved here 18 months ago, because the house is difficult to heat aside from rationing the heating bills. I can see us still trying to claw our way out of the shortage in our budget after Christmas.
As it currently is, I've never felt so skint as this, in years.
I want to start by saying that I’m managing, that I’m not broken, but, that I know I can’t keep things going as the situation stands, without significant impacts.
That’s what I want to speak about, the impact of poverty on my physical and mental health. How, if I track my life from 2019 to now, I can see just how messed up things have become.
It wouldn’t matter how much money I had right now in a way, the damage is done.
Poverty, slowly but steadily, removes your true voice. It takes away the strength to fight, to believe that we are worthy.
Over time, our friends have stopped asking us to attend events, stopped inviting us to places because we cannot afford to join them. Our circle has reduced so much and as a single parent to a child with additional needs, that has slowly destroyed my sense of self worth and my ability to get out and try to enjoy life.
My body ‘feels’ broken. I am experiencing a very difficult menopause and despite multiple attempts to garner healthcare support, I am unable to due to a family history of cancer. I’ve given up asking. So I just suffer and I don’t use that word lightly.
I can’t properly care for myself any longer, and that is so very sad to me. I gave up smoking and drinking alcohol, I tried to eat healthily but it’s so expensive now.
I recently had a minor accident and really hurt my foot. I absorbed the pain and carried on because there is only me to take care of things. I found out from my doctor when I could finally get in, that I have a suspected hairline fracture on my foot. I’ve just carried on, because although rationally I know I need to rest, realistically, I can’t. I can’t afford to get help to do jobs in my home and I have no one to help with my son.
I absorb the pain and I think well this is all you can do, but it makes me so so sad that I even matter so little to myself now.
I am not the person I was in September 2019. When I finally had help with my son, I had a part time job, I had possibilities and a bit of hope. I was building back up after difficult times and honestly thought we can do this, things will get better, they haven’t.
Recently, my stepfather died and the devastating effects of that have hit me hard. I come from a fractured family and have no support at all from them. They hid his death and I found out by accident. I cannot tell you how that felt and as I add that to the mountain of suffocating beliefs that I don’t deserve better, I know that getting out of this dark place has become something I just cannot see.
Whilst I keep telling myself you aren’t broken, the reality is a very different story…
I’m trying hard to keep the faith and I support others through voluntary work and a listening ear, so it isn’t over, yet.
I wanted so much more for my son, how sad that so much greed and apathy to the lives of people on low incomes has rendered any dreams that I had, void.
I do think that we have survived a lot, and maybe we can get through. But the crisis in the actual ‘cost’ of living this way is far from over for so many of us.
Certainly not, while the price of some things has gone back down a bit in price such as gas, electricity and fuel, there are still millions of families like mine that are going to have no choice but to leave the heating turned off this winter and stay cold in our own homes due to the cost. I am unable to afford to cook food on a daily basis, often having to eat cold meals instead that do not require the use of gas or electricity. In the shops the price of some foods has also come down slightly such as fruit and vegetables but again the cost of fresh fruit is still far too high to enable us to afford the recommended amount, also I am sure most people have noticed that apart from price increases in a lot of supermarket prices there has also been a reduction in the amount / size of package simply meaning another increase.
I also feel this has a larger effect on those receiving Legacy benefits that did not get any increase along with other benefits earlier in the year and also missed out on most cost of living payments. My situation on Legacy benefits means myself and my daughter are living on the same amount as we we were five years ago apart from the small increase in child benefit, with no help from my previous partner this is all we have to survive on. So simply, NO the cost of living crisis is not over and is yet a long way off. I am starting to lose hope that anything will change for low income families no matter what government is in place within my lifetime. Whenever there is a price increase in utility bills, internet connection, food or anything else it means I have to make more and more cutbacks in other areas to stay afloat.
It is not a case of if and when things will change, it is NOW that changes must be made in order for a fairer society where we can all have a reasonable standard of living, bring up our families to have the best possible start in life that is achievable and be in a situation to lift themselves out of a life of poverty.
As a single parent I’m reliant on my parents for childcare over the summer holidays. I cannot afford childcare for the extra time during the days. On top of the usual beginning of the school year expenses (uniform, school shoes and stationery), I have the additional cost of childcare for September.
Summertime is already an expensive time in general, the children do need the odd trip out, and this incurs further expenses. I am looking forward to the children returning to school.
The school new year gives me stress and anxiety, as my son will move to a new school due to bullying in previous school. New uniform, new people, and as a single parent working full time, it is sometimes very hard to manage it all. Especially with cost of living crisis, it is hard to manage finances and prioritise and rationing.
However, will get there as I am a proud and blessed single mom. My son is a blessing and keeps me strong and happy in many ways.
I have no new beginnings to look forward to. There's nothing more I can do. I'm a single parent, I already work full time, I'm not on minimum wage, and yet I still cannot afford to pay my bills or do the shopping. And I'm sat here now, almost crying because I've just come back from Aldi with a calculator in one hand, trying to not go over the ten pound that I've got left until the 25th. And, I mean, we're on the 9 August, I've almost got no petrol in the car. I can't think of any new beginnings, so I can't look forward to any because there's just nothing. There's no hope. There is no hope whatsoever. And.
I feel really bad about the summer holidays just because we can't afford to do anything. We can't afford to go anywhere. It's just going to be a really difficult summer holidays and there's nothing else to say about it. I don't know how me and my child will make it through the summer holidays and that's it, really just scared.
As I am a single parent on a low income I feel stressed because I wont be able to afford a holiday or day trips out with my children.
I will be working and trying to make ends meet. Added food costs in the holidays are also a worry because kids at home eat more frequently and I hear " I'm hungry " most of the time.
Summer holidays are not something I have looked forward to for many years. It causes me a lot of stress and anxiety. My daughter has just finished for the summer and will not return for nearly seven weeks. She would love to go away for a short holiday but this is not something I have been able to give her since becoming a single parent. As it stands during this summer I will not even have the money to take her out for the day. The cost of extra food, electricity and other day to day expenses are crippling at a time like this. Luckily my daughter is old enough to go out alone so will probably spend some time with her friends somewhere local and free. As for myself I shall spend most of my time at home as usual worrying about the cost of running our home and desperately trying to think of ways to cut back even further even though I live a very basic lifestyle already, trying my hardest not to use gas, electricity and water due to the cost. This is definately going to be a long difficlt summer for the two of us.
The summer holidays can be costly. There’s additional worry about finances and the added pressure of buying school uniform. We will at least receive food vouchers from the council, which will help to alleviate the increased food costs. This year, I can only take two weeks off work. Being a solo parent with no funds to cover the cost of summer camps means I am very much reliant on the children’s grandparents and the kindness of family friends for childcare. This year we are fortunate enough to be spending a week in Cornwall, in a cottage with friends. We will be catering for ourselves and we will have to find inexpensive things to do, such as walks and exploring the coastline. It’s been some time since we’ve been away, the children really do deserve a proper holiday.