21st century poverty: “I have £3.87 to my name”

“I just feel my son deserves so much better than a mum who can’t even provide”

Amy-Leigh is a mum from Oldbury. Like 14 million others in the UK, she lives in poverty.

In a heart-breaking thread on netmums, Amy-Leigh shared her experience of what it’s like to live in poverty in 21st century Britain.

Amy-Leigh said: “I’m so broke I don’t know what to do. I have £3.87 to my name till Friday next week.

Poverty in the UK

“We have no food in the house, and I need to top up the electric. I’m struggling to feed me and my son.

“I’ve googled food parcels and the nearest one is about seven miles away, and it would cost me £3.60 in bus fare.

“We’ve taken our TV to cash converters and got a tiny bit of money, which went on bills. I can’t ask my parents.

“It’s my niece’s birthday and I can’t afford a card. This is making me feel so ill.

“I feel like a complete failure as it’s my job to take care of my son and I can’t even do that.

“I just feel my son deserves so much better than a mum who can’t even provide. I’m a complete failure.

Amy-Leigh has since found help, got a crisis loan, and contacted a food bank.

However, many haven’t accessed the help available, don’t know it’s there, or are simply too proud to claim.

Use Turn2us resources to find help

If you have to choose between food and bills, use our Benefits Calculator to find out what you are entitled to.

If you have to choose between feeding yourself and feeding your kids, use our Grant Search to check if you are eligible for a grant.

Source: NetMums website Coffee House thread: I’m so broke I don’t know what to do

Lower benefit cap comes into effect

Government Changes to the benefit cap came into effect on 7 November 2016, reducing the total amount of benefits a household can receive.

A new benefit cap came into effect from 7 November 2016, meaning the total amount workless households can receive in benefits will be limited to £20,000 across the UK or £23,000 within Greater London.

Before the benefit cap, there was no limit on the amount households could claim in state support, which often left no incentive for people to find work.

The Government says that the benefit cap is based on a clear principle that work should always pay more than welfare. The evidence shows that since its introduction in April 2013, the benefit cap has provided a clear incentive for those who can work to move off welfare and into the security of a job. New figures show that almost 23,500 households who previously had their benefits capped have moved into employment.

Benefit Changes

Secretary of State Damian Green said:

Each statistic represents a person who has moved into employment and can now enjoy the security and dignity that work brings.

By making sure that those people who are out of work are faced with the same choices as those who are in work, the benefit cap has been a real success.

By lowering the cap today, we are ensuring the values of this government continue to chime with those of ordinary working people and delivering on our commitment to make sure work pays more than welfare.

The lower cap delivers on this government’s commitment to put work at the centre of the welfare system, ensuring it remains fair to both the taxpayers who pay for it and to those people who need it.

Anyone eligible for Working Tax Credit remains exempt from the cap, providing a clear incentive to move into work. People claiming Carer’s Allowance, Guardian’s Allowance, and most disability benefits are also exempt from the cap, ensuring those who cannot work are supported.

The new lower cap will be phased in across the country from 7 November 2016, and will be fully implemented by local authorities by January 2017. All claimants potentially affected by the new lower cap have been contacted by the government and local authorities ahead of these announced changes. This ensures they are aware of the help and support that is on offer, such as budgeting support, opportunities to learn new skills and help with childcare costs.

The department is also working closely with local authorities. To support those affected by the benefit cap changes, over £1 billion of Discretionary Housing Payments will have been provided to local authorities by the end of this parliament.

Benefit cap amounts

The new benefit cap is set at £20,000 a year outside London and £23,000 in Greater London to reflect higher rent costs. For single people without children, the cap is £15,410 in Greater London and £13,400 elsewhere.

More information

The new lower benefit cap will be fully implemented across the country by January, in phases, beginning from 7 November 2016. Anyone working and receiving Working Tax Credit will be exempt from the cap, as will households where someone receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or the support component of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Those claiming Carer’s Allowance or Guardian’s Allowance are exempt from the new cap, in recognition of the valuable contribution they make to society.