I’m a 33 yr old lone parent with 2 children aged 10 & 6. I currently receive ESA, Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit. I worked prior to having my children but am not seeking employment at the current time due to the severity of my health problems.
I receive minimal help with the care of my children – their paternal grandmother takes them for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoons if she has no other commitments. I am currently finding the demands my parental role a struggle due to my poor health. When my youngest child reached 5, my Income Support ceased and I applied for JSA. I could not keep to my jobseeker agreement and felt that the conditions and appointments applied to me were constantly changing. I was sanctioned and eventually sought assistance from the housing support provider who had accommodated me during my late teens and prior to my having children.
This experience greatly impacted upon my mental health and contributed to my claiming ESA on the grounds of sickness. Living on benefits is a constant struggle for me. I feel myself and my children are living hand to mouth. There is no room for treats and I am dreading the school holidays as the children get frustrated and bored: they don’t understand our financial predicament. I have been forced to purchase essential items through Brighthouse even though I know they charge high prices and interest on goods and I receive intimidating phone calls when late with payments.
If benefits are a lifestyle choice then it’s a lifestyle of desperation. My aspirations relate to lifting myself and my children out of poverty but I’m struggling to see a way forward at the moment.