'We can’t afford basics' - mum speaks out as one in four kids in the South West now in poverty

  • Watch Rob Murphy's report here

A mother from Somerset using foodbanks says the UK needs a more ‘logical system’ so that parents can afford to pay for childcare while they work. 

Ana is a single mum from Taunton and works part-time as a support worker for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. 

Due to the rising cost of living, Ana needs to use foodbanks to get by. 

She said: “We can’t afford the basics, which is sad, and it’s unbelievable to think that you can’t give your child the basics.

“A year ago it was a bit better and now it’s just getting worse and worse.”

Sue Weightman says people who have never needed foodbanks are relying on them now

Sue Weightman, from Taunton Foodbank, said: “The trend we’re seeing is new families coming, people who have never needed to use a foodbank before. 

“Some of those families have supported us with donations over the years and now find themselves needing a foodbank which is really difficult, emotionally, for them to do.”

This comes as Action for Children has revealed the number of children in the South West living beneath the poverty line across the region has shot up to 300,000. 

The charity has also found more than a quarter (27%) of children in the South West of England are living in poverty. Most of these children (75%) are in families where at least one adult is working. 

Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action for Children Imran Hussain said the benefits system is a "big part" of what's happening.

Ana claimed Universal Credit for the first time during her maternity leave in January 2021. She previously worked full-time and has never been out of work or claimed benefits before.

She said: “My maternity pay was not enough for us to survive on, so I applied for Universal Credit as a top-up.

“I have always worked and never needed to use the system before, so it was a shock to find out how little I was expected to live on, even with child benefit.

“I am back at work part-time now, but it is still a struggle. I have cut down on absolutely everything, and it’s still not enough.

“I would happily work more hours - but the childcare costs are so high, and I don’t have anyone else who can look after my daughter.

“The stress and humiliation of not being able to afford essentials is the worst part for me.”

Demand on foodbanks is up

Ana feels the solution is to make childcare cheaper so that parents can afford to work. 

She said: “[We need] a system that makes sense and is going to be a logical system where you do give the chances to the parents to go to work, but also their children to be safe.”