'I will cry when the hoover is on so my children can't hear me': The harsh financial impact of coronavirus

  • By ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

“I will cry when the hoover is on so my children can’t hear me – and then I will wash my face, say everything is ok, because I can’t bear the thought of them knowing something is wrong, that things are really really bad.”

Ebony Seasman and her family may have avoided contracting coronavirus, but it is already having a brutal, financial impact.

The mother of three from Northumberland was on a zero-hours contract when the pandemic began. Her job in a bar has now disappeared completely, with no hope she says of finding another in the hospitality sector.

Often, she goes hungry just to make sure her two daughters and one son do not.

“Having to choose between food on the table and paying my bills, the bills don’t get paid. And often I don’t even have enough to make everyone dinner, so me and my partner go without – and I still feel like the worst parent in the world.”

An exclusive survey from the poverty charity Turn2us shows how one in eight UK adults now can’t afford food, heating or electricity as a result of Covid-19 affecting incomes.

Unsurprisingly, those on zero hours contracts have seen the biggest proportional drop in their wages, and now on average must survive on £614 per month, down by almost £200.

As Anna Stevenson, a welfare benefits specialist for Turn2us, said: "After the last recession that followed the financial crash, the first jobs to return were in hospitality.

"This time they will, for obvious reasons, be the last – and when they do, in hugely reduced numbers.”

Indeed, the average UK adult received 22% less wages in May than April.

Those figures include the payments to the 8.7 million furloughed workers. As those are withdrawn, and further huge job losses inevitably follow, more and more will be plunged into poverty.

The IPPR think tank believe more than one million more people by the end of the year, including 200,000 children.

Jamie Watts fears he might lose his house.

The 50-year-old lost his job as a quantity surveyor in the week before lockdown started.

His pleas to be furloughed fell on deaf ears with his employer, despite Covid-19 being given as the reason on his redundancy letter. He is already being forced to use up some of the money earmarked for his October wedding.

“Two months ago, I thought I would be OK. Now I’m preparing for the worst, that we could lose everything including the house," he said.

"It’s not nice to think that after 30 years, I might have to start again.”