Labour MP 'survived on cereal' during single parent days

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A Labour MP has recalled when she "survived on cereal" in order to feed her son meals following benefit delays.

Laura Smith (Crewe and Nantwich) said she wanted to give colleagues an "insider look" at being a single parent relying on the benefits system.

Speaking during a Commons debate on the Government's flagship welfare reform Universal Credit, Ms Smith said: "I became a single parent when my now six-year-old son was 14 months old.

"I was working as a teacher and had no option but to drop my hours and apply for working tax credits.

"I experienced the process of benefit delay myself and went many weeks focusing on feeding my son meals while I survived off cereal.

"During this difficult time, I felt the pressure of trying to manage my bills and make my rent commitments while all the time trying to remain a strong and capable parent for my child.

"I cannot stress enough how tough life can feel when you're a single parent.

"Not only are you dealing with the trauma of a failed relationship and the difficult process of everyone involved adjusting to the new circumstances, but like me, many can find themselves in extreme financial difficulty where it is easy to become trapped in a spiral of debt and benefit uncertainty while juggling children - in my own case as a teacher."

Ms Smith said it was "heartbreaking" to hear stories from her constituents about "similar problems" due to UC.