Mum of eight says benefits cap will make her homeless

'I want to work, but nobody will help'

Updated: 
Marie Buchan

Mother of eight Marie Buchan says she'll be made homeless when the government introduces its £20,000 benefits cap.

The 33-year-old single mum, who lives in Birmingham, says she is already behind with her rent, and that the new limit on welfare could see her kicked out of the house she rents from the Bournville Village Trust.

Marie's children are aged between 21 months and 13 years old. She currently receives around £2,000 a month in benefits, including child benefit, income support and housing benefit - equivalent to a salary of £34,500 a year before tax.

She pays £137 a month for her four-bedroom home, but says that she's already had one possession order awarded against her.

Marie says she used to work as a cleaner, but had to quit because it was impossible to get her children ready in the mornings. And she was unable to take up a place on an NHS training course because her youngest child wasn't eligible for free childcare.

If she could find 16 hours work a week, she would avoid the effects of the benefits cap.

"I really want to work, but right now no-one is willing to help in any way. All I'm being told is to wait until my youngest is five years old," she tells the Birmingham Mail.

"Working 16 hours will help me so much - yet I will be taking more from the state by working through help with rent, childcare and council tax. Right now I'm not getting any help, even though I've tried every angle possible."

Under the newly-announced limits, the benefits cap will be reduced from £26,000 per household to £23,000 in London and £20,000 in the rest of the country. The idea is to make sure that the unemployed don't take home more than the average worker.

The government expects the new limit to affect 90,000 more households, on top of the 59,000 already hit.

However, its own figures, leaked to the Guardian in May, show that 40,000 more children would fall into poverty as a result of the reduced cap - not all of them born to feckless parents.

"We know that children are the most affected by capping benefits. So reducing it further will push even more children into poverty," comments Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children's Society.

"To make matters worse the government will no-longer be accountable to these children – having announced last week they will abolish an income-related measure of child poverty."

As for Marie, she has at least decided against having any more children, having previously suggested that she might try for a baby using a surrogate mother. "Eight is more than enough to care for," she said.

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