4th December 2022 – (Worcester) A struggling mum has just £16 each month to live on – and now only eats pancakes to survive.
Julie Harper, 52, ‘doesn’t feel human’ as a result of her financial woes.
She is now worried she will lose her home and have to put one of her dogs down as costs mount.
Julie, who lost her job at M&S during the pandemic, has lived in the same home in Worcester for 22 years.
She used to get £155 a month through Universal Credit, but her carers allowance was taken away after her daughter left.
It means once the money is deducted from her benefits and the contributions towards housing and bills are taken, she was left with just £16 a month to live on.
The single mum-of-three now spends just £4 a week at the supermarket, only buying milk, eggs, flour, bread and butter and going some days without food.
‘You don’t even feel human. I feel forgotten’, said Julie.
She added: ‘I usually receive £155 a month from Universal Credit but it suddenly dropped to just £16 as I was no longer caring for my daughter.
‘I didn’t get an explanation why and a breakdown from my housing provider, it just happened.
‘The housing company hasn’t sat down with me and gone through it with me, I’m not sure how I got to £16.
‘I won’t be able to afford the rent here soon.
‘It’s embarrassing, I’ve had to put shopping back at the till because I don’t have the amount to spend. You go home and don’t feel human.’
Julie says it’s been three full weeks since she ate a proper meal, and that the situation is taking a huge toll on her mental health.
She’s even asked the council for a smaller home – she has two spare rooms since her children moved out – but doing so is ‘proving impossible’.
Julie has been forced to get help from a local foodbank and use the most of what little money she has on dog food to keep her beloved pets fed.
The 52-year-old’s dire situation has led vets to offer to put Julie’s German Shephard down free of charge if she can’t afford the medication.
Julie added: “The dogs is the hardest part of all of this. I will always feed them over myself but it’s awful.
‘When you look at them and they’ve only had a piece of toast a day it doesn’t make you feel like a good person.
‘The medication to keep one dog going is £58 a month, it’s essential medication.
Julie’s weekly shop consists of bread, eggs, milk, butter and flour which she uses sparingly, thinning the milk down and counting the bread slices to make everything last.
‘You don’t feel like a part of society. You have to batten down the hatches.. You don’t have the energy to walk.
‘I’m trying to spread out the cost over the weeks. I’ve been buying full fat milk to thin it down so it lasts double the time.
‘You do what you have to do when you’re in that position. I just have to drink water to make you feel full up.’
She also uses hot water bottles and blankets as it is too expensive to turn hearting on.
Platform Housing said that they are aware of Miss Harper’s situation and have been supporting her ‘for some time’.
Lisa Fairlie, director of housing operations at Platform Housing Group said: ‘We are aware of our customer’s concerns and as such we have been supporting her for some time as well as signposting her to other agencies.
‘We will continue to work with Ms Harper to find the right solution for her…’