Universal Credit: 'My family is hungry and trapped in a spiral of debt'

A mum has told how her family has been left hungry and trapped in a spiral of debt 'thanks to a failing support system'.
Lauren Harris says they have been forced to rely on foodbanks and can barely afford their bills while receiving Universal Credit .
The 22-year-old told Kent Live : "The government's idea of a living wage, is not the reality of a living wage."
She added: "I constantly feel like I'm going to break down in tears, we don't know the next time we are going to eat."
Lauren's husband Michael is a full time worker for Eurotunnel but his wage isn't enough on its own to support their young family.
With a four-month-old daughter to look after as well as health problems, Lauren is unable to work at the moment.
Which is where Universal Credit is supposed to come into play - to bump up their living costs.
But Lauren says the new benefit system is not having the desired effect.
Lauren says her family's income is not enough to support them  

She and Michael moved into their two-bedroom, privately-rented house in Deal, Kent, last year after previously living with Michael's parents before little Scarlett-May was born.
Lauren said: "There physically wasn't the space there for our baby and our room had no heating because it was an attic conversion.
"We were living with my husband's mum, dad and two brothers so they took into account every else's wages, which meant we got nothing from Universal Credit.
"And the council wouldn't help us move out because we had no dependents - even though I was pregnant."
The couple say they were forced to take out a loan to find private accommodation as they had no financial help.
But Lauren says their monthly income - which includes Michael's wage and Universal Credit allowance -doesn't come close to covering their housing costs.
She says the family are left to choose between necessities and borrowing money from family to buy food.
Lauren added: "My husband is working and doing as much as he can but we've still had to take out loans to make ends meet.
"We do receive Universal Credit now but where my husband works shifts it fluctuates. The system is s***.
"They take into account what he has earned the month previously, so where he earned £700 one month, we'll be entitled to very little and then he'll only earn £300 the next month.
"We go to food banks quite often - the most recent time in December - and my husband and I have gone without food a few times.
"My daughter is on a prescription milk so she has never gone hungry or without, but we have.
"We have had to borrow off family all the time, which just makes you feel guilty. They shouldn't have to do that for us."
Lauren can't work because she has to care for her four-month-old daughter and has health problems 
Lauren added: "With Universal Credit we are always only just scraping the bills and can't afford to feed outselves.
"We have been crying out eyes out because we feel like we are failing.
"My husband is constantly working his a***  off but we're barely scraping by.
"Housing costs and bills are too expensive now - you can't financially live without help.
"We can't afford to move and we can't go back to our families either, so we've had to begrudgingly sign another six months lease on the house."
She added: "We can't afford to live here.
"And now we're stuck here until August living off scraps.
"We don't have a TV subscription or anything like that. We use the Internet on our phones because we can't afford internet.
"There's nothing else we can cut back on.
"We make sure our baby is fine but we are both losing weight."

What is Universal Credit?

The Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with your living costs.
You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income or out of work.
Universal Credit will encompass all of the following benefits:
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

To make matters worse, Lauren, who suffers a number of mental health issues, is in remission from cancer.
And she says she often misses important medical appointments in London because she can't afford to get there.
She said: "I had a germ cell tumour in my right ovary when I was 14 that was 20 by 40 cm and had to have my right ovary removed.
"I had problems with my left ovary earlier this year and had part of it removed.
"Since having my baby I have had lots of blood tests and other important appointments but missed them because I can't afford train fares."
A DWP spokeswoman told Mirror Online: "Universal Credit is a force for good, providing a vital safety net for people who are out of work or on low wages.
"Payments adjust automatically based on earnings and budgeting support is available to help with managing money. Local Authority support can also provide extra help with housing costs.
"For people who have additional, disability-related costs, PIP or DLA can provide extra support."
Universal Credit: 'My family is hungry and trapped in a spiral of debt' Universal Credit: 'My family is hungry and trapped in a spiral of debt' Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 05:56 Rating: 5

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