What Would You Do?
Your cooker breaks. You don't have any savings so can only afford to use a rent-to-own company, which will end up costing you considerably more in the long run.
Do you buy a new cooker or go without hot meals?
Lack of savings or access to cheap credit forces low-income families into paying more for essential items. The typical cost of a cooker is £237.33 but this rises to £780 for a low-income family.
BrightHouse: Cheapest washing machine (with the mandatory 5 star service) is £471.00. Purchased using weekly repayment over 3 years (69.9% APR), it would cost £936.00 (or £1,056.12 with the optional product insurance, if user does not have contents insurance).
29% of parents cut back on food for the home due to poverty.
Your daughter has grown out of her school blazer.
Do you buy her a new one or top up the energy meter?
Parents spend an average of £800 a year on school costs. 95% of the poorest families struggle with the costs of school.
ECP Feeling the Pinch report found that in October 2016, families using a prepayment meter for their gas and electricity spent £71.40 per year more than families who use direct debit schemes.
End Child Poverty Feeling the pinch report: http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/images/Feelingthepinch/ECP-FeelingThePinch-final-report.pdf
The house is cold and damp, and your son has developed a bad cold. You only have enough money on the meter to either turn the heating on or turn on the stove to cook a hot meal -
What do you do?
22% of families in energy debt cut back on food as a result.
A third of children whose family had faced energy debt said they were unwell 'all the time' or 'sometimes' last winter, compared to just over one in 10 children whose families had never had energy debt.
Your daughter gets sent home from school for not wearing her blazer; she is upset and worried it may happen again. You've just received a council tax bill.
Do you pay for a new blazer or pay the bill?
Lack of correct uniform also has an impact socially. One in four children in the poorest families has been bullied as a result of being unable to afford a school expense.
In just 14 days, families can go from missing a council tax payment to losing the ability to pay in instalments and then face court proceedings and enforcement on unpaid bills, such as bailiff visits.
Your rent is due but your housing benefit doesn't cover the full amount.
Do you borrow money for rent or risk eviction?
Low-income families often don't have access to affordable credit and are often forced into alternative loans e.g. short-term high cost credit. A survey by Which? Found that 1 million households per month were using payday loans, with four in ten people using them to pay for essentials like food or fuel.
Many families are already seeing their help with housing costs fall short of their rent. In 2015, the new Government decided to freeze LHA rates for 4 years - from 2016 through to 2020. If actual rents rose by the same amount in the second half of the decade as they did in the first, families in a typical 2 bedroom property could see the shortfall increase by a further £72 per month.
It's the school holidays so the children aren't receiving a free meal at lunchtime. You only have enough money to cover meals for them, not for you as well.
Do you skip meals or try to visit a food bank?
More than a quarter of parents say they can't provide food for all the meals their children need during the school holidays.
In 2015 the Trussell Trust - a large food bank provider - gave out over 1 million three-day food supplies.
The cost of living is set to increase and children's benefits have been frozen so things are likely to get still harder for many low-income families. Will you ask your MP to take action to protect children living in poverty?
Help us highlight these issues by Emailing Your MP or sharing #feelingthepinch: