A pregnant woman and her unemployed partner say they’re struggling to survive on Universal Credit because they’re left with just £4 a day after rent and bills.
Karl Barrow and his partner Georgia are expecting a daughter, but fear they won’t be able to afford her upbringing.
The Plymouth couple claim that their £906 monthly allowance is reduced to just £4.67 a day – or just over £2 each – for food or other expenses once their rent and bills are covered.
Karl, 31, told Plymouth Live that they feel let down by the system and they’re £50 worse off due to the way Universal Credit calculates maternity earnings.
But the Department for Work and Pensions defended the Universal Credit system and said the couple “are currently in receipt of all the benefits they’re entitled to”.
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The former restaurant worker said he was forced to give up work this summer after suffering a slipped disc.
He went on Universal Credit but said he’s not entitled to a full claim because Georgia takes home maternity pay.
Karl said: “We simply sit here and fester. That’s the most basic way of putting it; because we don’t know what to do.
“We have had numerous appointments with agencies like the Citizens Advice Bureau. But it’s a circle, we get the same advice every single time.”
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“We know there’s different rates of help.
“So we get Universal Credit and my partner has maternity allowance. But that’s considered an income, so even with a top-up from that we only get £906.”
Karl said he has no family who can help, having moved from Surrey two years ago, and and Georgia’s family live almost an hour away in Paignton.
He said the situation is now also taking a toll on his mental as well as his physical health.
He added: “We don’t have a plan (for when the baby arrives).
“We’ve exhausted all our options. Georgia’s considered not fit to work, because she is so far gone along here pregnancy, employers don’t give her an opportunity.
“I’m awaiting to be told I am fit to work again. Some days I can walk, others I can’t at all.
“I’m waiting to see the doctor for my mental health issues. My back has been the priority so I can return to work.
“I have existing mental health issues, which I can’t sort because I have other priorities to sort.”
Karl said he feels the system has let his young family down.
He added: “Things have got to change with the Universal Credit system.
“But if people don’t speak up, then how will things ever change?”
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Universal Credit is a force for good, and it’s working for the vast majority of people.
“Mr Barrow and his partner are currently in receipt of all the benefits they’re entitled to.”
Karl and Georgia’s financial predicament
Karl’s claims this is the couple’s current financial situation which leaves them with just over £2 each a day.
Universal Credit joint claim: £906
Council tax: £80
Both phones: £40
Total monthly outgoings: £775
What’s left: £131
Per week (couple): £32.75
Per day (couple): £4.67