Growing up poor, life for children on Universal Credit

This week there was a programme on Channel 4, Dispatches, Growing up poor: Britain’s Breadline Kids. This programme offered a view of the world that we at The Biscuit Fund see on a regular basis, of families struggling to put food onto the table or to be able to put the heating on without thinking.

It’s not easy to feed yourself well on a tiny budget, and many grow up not knowing how to cook well with basic ingredients. The cookery writer Jack Munroe has been fighting hard to change this, by offering her Cooking on a Bootstrap or Tin Can Cook cookbooks, which you can find out more about here. The food that is cheap and plentiful is often that which is not the best for you, carb-laden and food that doesn’t fuel growing brains and bodies, children and adults, need a balanced diet.

In the programme, aired on Monday evening, one of the children said, “we don’t ask to be born into poor families, it’s not the children’s fault’. (If you haven’t watched it, you can do so here on Channel 4 On-Demand) These children are the ones bearing the brunt of the financial struggles of families, especially those where money is so very tight.

Consider what it must be like at Christmas time? A time where we have expectations of what the season might bring, of presents, extra special food, time together as a family. We wish we could help everyone, offer them money to buy presents for their children so that they don’t miss out on the experience of Christmas, whatever your views on that season might be.

Just this week, we heard of one family, this was just one case in the 15 or so we receive a day, where the mother had been sanctioned for 52 days for not attending a Job Centre appointment. The sanction means her Universal Credit money, already stretched to its limit will be reduced even further. The reason she couldn’t attend, one of her children was sick and she only had 94p in her purse, not enough for the bus fare to get to the jobcentre and she couldn’t leave her sick child alone. She’s already had emergency help from her local authority on three occasions and three is her limit, so she faces the next 52 days, a single parent with children, with little or nothing to buy food or top up her energy meters, which in this cold is not good.

We are so grateful for all the help we receive from members of the public, it is you that helps these people put food on the table in front of desperately hungry children. Thank you.

If you would like to find out more about us, have a look at our website and if you would like to make a one-time donation or become a regular donor, even if it is £2 a month click here. We put every single pound you send us to good use, to help families that are facing terrible times. We don’t have premises, pay salaries or overheads. We operate solely online and at no cost, so every penny is used to help others.

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