Shoreham mum on Universal Credit after relationship breakdown could not pay council tax for year

Kayleigh Richardson
Kayleigh Richardson

A mum plunged into financial turmoil on Universal Credit after the breakdown of her relationship was left unable to pay her council tax for more than a year.

Kayleigh Richardson, 27, said she would be ‘better off quitting’ her part-time job in a care home because of the deductions in her benefits as a result of her earnings.

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Her financial struggles are a far cry from life with her ex-partner, when the couple required no benefits aside from child benefit and child tax credits.

She said: “I have no choice but to leave some bills unpaid because I can’t afford to pay them.

“It is not worth me working. I would be better off quitting my job but if you quit your job or get fired, they stop your money.”

Kayleigh, from Shoreham, travels to Rustington for work, earning around £550 per month. Her part-time wage is supplemented with Universal Credit.

Read more: Our nationwide investigation into Universal Credit

Under Universal Credit rules, she said salary deductions kicked in after she earned £198, after which she was deducted 63 pence for every pound she was paid.

“I think they should increase the amount people can earn before they start deducting it,” she said.

“For a single parent working part-time I think they should at least increase it so people could earn about £300-400 before they start deducting it.

“To be honest I am not surprised there are so many people not working. It is so easy to be on benefits and they make it more appealing - but I love my job so if I can help it I will never leave.

“They want me to do more and I would like to but I am limited on childcare and I don’t want to work to pay someone else to look after my son.”

Kayleigh said she felt ‘forced’ to take out an emergency loan when she applied for Universal Credit, a measure introduced by the Government to ease the waiting time for the benefit to be paid.

She took out £700 to help cover the five-week wait – but is now paying it back at a rate of £58 a month. The repayments further eat into the limited funds she has to pay for bills - including half her rent - and living costs.

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