A DESPERATE young mum has considered doing online webcam modelling so she can afford bills and feed her family this winter.
Jada Brittain, 18, told The Sun: “I know that you can make a lot of money doing it. I’d rather lose my dignity online than not be able to pay my bills or my child go without.”
She is one of millions of struggling Brits who face a hard choice between paying for heating or eating this winter.
Rising living costs and energy bills along with a £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit has created a “perfect storm” for households and stark choices when it comes to paying for essentials.
Jada has a seven month old daughter Isabelle and is currently getting £600 a month maternity allowance – but her last payment is in November. She’s been trying to get a job but hasn’t had any luck so far.
Her partner Joe, 19, works full-time earning just under £400 every fortnight as a customer service apprentice.
The couple have been told that they will be entitled to Universal Credit of around £200 after the maternity allowance ends – but that will leave them with a shortfall of around £400 a month.
“It’s not liveable at all. I don’t know how we'll be able to afford to pay for anything really,” she said.
“I will have to choose between heating and eating this year and probably won’t be able to afford Christmas.”
“We’ve tried wrapping up in dressing gowns and blankets but the heating is on more.
“We spend more time with my partner’s family to avoid being home.
“When we are there we try to just heat the baby’s room and keep the heating on for short bursts only. But even little things add up over time.”
Heating bills have rocketed after a huge surge in the cost of wholesale gas, and could rise further next year.
Meanwhile food prices have shot up, sending grocery bills soaring.
Jada said she’s trying to cut her food bill in a number of ways – including not eating – but has also had to rely on charity.
She said: “I’ve started buying healthier food. Buying fresh rather than ready meals is cheaper and it’s saving us around £50 a month
“Skipping meals is another way I’ve saved. I tend not to have breakfast and have leftovers from dinner for lunch.
“We’ve already gone to food banks a few times and we’ll have to go again.”
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned of a looming debt crisis among low-income households this winter and the couple are already in debt.
Joe has around £700 on his credit card and although Jada has tried not to use hers in case they need it in an emergency, she has an outstanding balance of £200.
“We might still have to take out another credit card,” she admits. “I'm stressed to say the least but trying not to be.”
How to get help if you’re struggling
There's support out there if you're struggling with bills or other finances, along with free advice.
Make sure you're getting all the support available to you, as millions of Brits are missing out on a whopping £15bn worth of benefits.
You can use free benefits calculators online to see what you might be entitled to.
Charities across the UK provide grants to Brits in financial need, and you won't have to pay them back.
The schemes open to you will depend on things like your age, profession and where you live.
The amount you will get also varies depending on your circumstances and which charity grants you are eligible for.
Poverty charity Turn2Us provides a grant search service where you can find out what cash pots you can apply to.
You can get advice on a range of money issues like bills and debts from several organisations – and it's totally free.
- Money Advice Service – 0800 138 7777
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
- StepChange – 0800 138 1111
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
Council tax bills can be among the biggest household expenses – and it's a priority bill that you don't want to fall behind on.
If you're struggling to pay this bill you should contact your local council for help.
You be able to get a discount, depending on your circumstances, or other support if you can't afford to pay.
Contact your local council to check what support you can claim and apply.
If you're worried about falling behind on your energy bill then you should speak to your supplier.
There's a range of help for Brits on low incomes and they may offer their own schemes and grants.
You can find out more about what you could get in out guide.
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