A single mother who has not eaten properly for two weeks and cries at night due to the cost-of-living crisis said the wait for a Government payment to ease her struggle is “heartbreaking”.
More than eight million households on means-tested benefits are set to automatically receive direct payments of £326 between Thursday and the end of July from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – with a second instalment of £324 to be transferred in the autumn.
Sarah, a 23-year-old with a young son from the West Midlands, whose name has been changed because she does not want her friends or family to know what she is going through, told the PA news agency she “prayed” she would receive the payment on Thursday but was still waiting on Friday morning.
I haven’t slept 'cause I cried because the cost of living is horrible... I don't want my friends or family knowing my struggle
“It’s heartbreaking ’cause I understand they said between July 14 and the end of the month, but a lot of us prayed it would be today, and seeing others have it is heartbreaking because as a single mother my only income is universal credit, which is £485 a month,” she said.
“£485 isn’t a lot with the rising prices, so when they said, ‘July 14, you get this payment’, it was a relief knowing I don’t have to worry for a bit with getting food on my plate and choosing to eat or pay (my bills).
“I haven’t slept ’cause I cried because the cost of living is horrible.
“I don’t want my friends or family knowing my struggle as it is kind of embarrassing in a way.”
Sarah, who has been unable to work because an injury she got while pregnant has left her “in pain 24/7” and in need of a back operation, has had to forgo eating enough food for two weeks to make sure her son eats “no matter what”.
“He eats well. I will always put him first. I don’t care about myself, I will eat when I can,” she said.
“(I eat) small amounts, like one meal a day, or I would not eat for two days to save on food so it lasts.”
Sarah said she has not been able to sleep due to the stress of increasing food prices and bills, and has even questioned if she will receive the payment despite Government assurances.
“(The payment) was going toward my electric bill and to get a big food shop so I don’t have to worry for the next three weeks about what to have for dinner, and now I have to wait and see when or if I get it,” she added.
People may be entitled to receive the Government’s two lump sums, which total £650, if they receive support such as universal credit, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support, pension credit, child tax credit or working tax credit.
Those eligible will be paid automatically so they do not need to apply and payments may appear in accounts as “DWP Cost of Living”.
Sarah said she has tried to contact the DWP to make sure she is eligible and to find out more about the process, but said she has been left with “no answer”.
All eligible households will automatically receive the first instalment, and no one needs to worry they will miss out
A DWP spokesman said: “All eligible households will automatically receive the first instalment, and no one needs to worry they will miss out.”
It said all details about the payments can be found on its website.