Leyland’s cash-strapped families are becoming so desperate to keep their heads above water they are turning to extreme methods to save money.
People in South Ribble who live in social housing are facing a double crisis as the Government’s new Bedroom Tax and South Ribble’s Council Tax Support scheme came into force at the start of April.
Families who are seen to have a spare bedroom are now having their benefits cut by 14 per cent, and residents of working age are also expected to contribute £2.95 a week in council tax.
One single mum from Broadfield Drive who relies on housing benefits, is even reverting to getting a water meter fitted in the home she shares with her 13-year-old son, in a bid to save more money on her bills.
Paula Brooks, 45, said: “I’ve been applying for jobs for two years but all single mums are applying for the same jobs.
“I feel like I’m being hit against one wall and bounced off another. I try to find work to get off benefits, but I can’t, and now my benefits are being cut.
“The issue with the Bedroom Tax is that I’m in a three bedroomed house with my son, so I’m losing about £20 a week just to stay in our home.
“The Government says we should downsize, but there is nowhere for us to move to in Leyland.
“There are places available in Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge, but that money I would be getting back for moving there would then have to be spent on bus fares to get my son to school, and public transport to visit family in Leyland.
“Losing that amount of money is having a big effect, when you think that I spend about £30 or £40 a week on food bills, and there’s heating and clothes to buy on top of that. We’re really going to have to cut back and watch the pennies.
“I’m having a water meter fitted – that’s how far I’m having to go to save money now on our water bills.”
Paula added: “I’ve always been quite clever with money.
“I always shop around in supermarkets trying to find the cheapest items, and I don’t have any debts or store cards or loans, but not everyone is like that.
“I really believe more people will turn to payday loans or even crime, such as shoplifting, to help get more money. People will just be trying to keep their heads above water.”
Michael Moran, 30, from Penwortham, is also facing financial difficulties. He’s self-employed and has two children who stay with him in his ‘spare room’ once a week.
“If I have to move to a one-bedroomed house, I won’t be able to have my children over anymore,” he said.
“The Government says I should get a tenant if I can’t afford to lose some of my housing benefits, but that would still mean I couldn’t have my children over.
“They say I could sleep on the sofa and the children can share my room, but my son is two and my daughter is seven, so I think that’s a stupid suggestion.
“That £12 I’m now losing from the Bedroom Tax was used for extra heating and food when my children stay over.
“I work full time and I can’t do anymore, but they’re taking money away that we need to survive.”