Single working mother can only afford to feed her children £1 pizzas

Single working mother, 23, says she can only afford to feed her children £1 pizzas because her £920 salary doesn’t cover her £1,079 child care bills

  • Kimberley Hill, 23, fears she will be forced to give up her job because of the fees 
  • Mother-of-two, from Shropshire, switched to Universal Credit at the end of June 
  • Her monthly outgoings are £2,096.50 and her entire monthly income is £1,969

A single working mother has said she can only afford to feed her children £1 pizzas because of sky-high nursery fees. 

Kimberley Hill, 23, from Telford, Shropshire, said she fears she will be forced to give up her job because nursery costs are leaving her with no funds to feed herself. 

The mother-of-two switched to Universal Credit at the end of June, believing it would be better for her family.

She took an advance payment loan of £1,000 to cover costs between the period when her benefits stopped and her Universal Credit started. 

Kimberley Hill, 23, from Telford, Shropshire, said she fears she will be forced to give up her job because nursery costs are leaving her with no funds to feed herself or her children Wyatt, five, and Austin, three

And by September 20 she had started a part-time job in logistics admin. 

As a working mother, she should now be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare per week, but because she missed the August 31 application deadline she has been left to foot the bill herself. 

Miss Hill now faces monthly outgoings of £879 for nursery fees for her three-year-old son Austin and £200 for after-school care for her five-year-old son Wyatt, which is more than the £920 she is paid each month.

In total, Miss Hill’s monthly outgoings come to £2,096.50. And her income, including her monthly Universal Credit payment, comes to just £1,969.

Her monthly £1,049 Universal Credit payment will be significantly reduced when she starts receiving her monthly salary.  

As a working mother, she should now be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare per week, but because she missed the August 31 application deadline she has been left to foot the bill herself

Although working parent recipients of Universal Credit are entitled to claim up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, the bills must be paid upfront by parents and then reclaimed. 

Miss Hill said: ‘My salary doesn’t even cover my childcare costs let alone any other bills. I cannot afford to pay for my childcare upfront.’ 

Her rent also needs to be paid upfront and her salary and Universal Credit are both paid in arrears.

The cash-strapped mother has been in and out of hospital for digestive problems that doctors have diagnosed as a result of her poor diet and the lack of healthy food she eats.

Miss Hill said: ‘I feed the kids then I have whatever’s left over. Healthy food is expensive, cheap food isn’t so much.

In total, Miss Hill’s monthly outgoings come to £2,096.50. And her income, including her monthly Universal Credit payment, comes to just £1,969

‘The doctors say I’m not getting enough fruit and veg but I cannot comprehend spending much money on a meal. All I can afford is £1 pizza and £1 chips.’

But the mother had truly thought Universal Credit was the best option for her family.

Miss Hill, whose parents help out when they can, said: ‘I switched to Universal Credit because I was struggling to save my weekly income support benefits to pay my monthly bills.

‘I felt this decision would be best for me and my boys as Universal Credit is paid monthly. The first payment takes four to five weeks to come through but your benefits stop straight away.

‘I had to try to find money for new uniform and shoes. I cannot get a credit card, overdraft or loans because of a debt relief order.

‘I’ve had to call on a neighbour to borrow some money to pay my car insurance.

‘Sometimes I wish I hadn’t come off income support because at least I had my bills paid. But it was hard if I needed a new tyre on my car or my son got a hole in his school jumper.


Her £1,049 Universal Credit payment will be significantly reduced when she starts receiving her monthly salary. Although working parent recipients of Universal Credit are entitled to claim up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, the bills must be paid upfront by parents and then reclaimed – something Miss Hill can’t afford to do

‘It’s confusing because the amount of Universal Credit I get changes every month depending on how much childcare I’m claiming and how much money I’m earning.

‘But it feels like I get a lot less money now.’

Miss Hill’s working schedule means that she is required to pay for a full day’s nursery fee even though she only works between 12pm and 5pm.

Until her claim is upped to 30 hours a week of free childcare in January, Miss Hill is only able to claim 15 hours per week.

Miss Hill said: ‘No wonder some people choose to just pop another child out, probably an easier option because it’s so much stress, but that’s having a child for the wrong reasons.

‘I didn’t expect to be a single mother. I had been with my partner for years but it didn’t work out.’

Work coaches at Jobcentres are able to offer eligible claimants a Flexible Support Fund, which is a non-repayable award to help with upfront childcare costs in order to start work.

Miss Hill said: ‘My salary doesn’t even cover my childcare costs let alone any other bills. I cannot afford to pay for my childcare upfront’

Miss Hill applied for this but was told she would likely be denied as the amount she needed was so high.

Miss Hill said: ‘I’m not looking for money I can blow on me, I’m just trying to do better for me and my kids.

‘I don’t even know if I can cope with the stress or worry. I’m just taking it a day at a time and praying I get accepted for the Flexible Support Fund to tide me over.

‘If I don’t then I’ll have to quit my job and they will chase me to search for a new one. It will be a never ending circle.’

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said it is looking into Miss Hill’s case and has agreed to offer her help from the Flexible Support Fund.

A DWP spokesperson said: ‘ We’re committed to helping everyone access the support they need. Up-front care costs can be claimed out of the Flexible Support Fund and Miss Hill’s claim has been allowed.

‘With Universal Credit, working parents can recover up to 85 per cent of eligible childcare costs. Miss Hill has also applied for up to 30 hours free childcare to begin in January, and advice for families about when to claim is available online.’ 

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