'We'll have to skip meals' - What benefits loss means for Norwich mum

Tracey Parrin (right) said the £20 uplift had made the world of difference to her family over the pandemic

Tracey Parrin (right) said the £20 uplift had made the world of difference to her family over the pandemic - Credit: Tracey Parrin

"I'd like to see people in government step into my shoes, and go month to month not knowing whether they'll have to starve so their kids can eat."

This is the message from Tracey Parrin, a 39-year-old from Norwich who is set to lose £86 a month under government plans to slash Universal Credit payments.

The £20 weekly uplift was introduced during the pandemic but will come to an end in October.

Here in the city, nearly 15,000 people will lose £1,040 in annual income — with more than 40pc believed to be in employment.

Boris Johnson has dismissed calls to make the uplift permanent, saying: “My strong preference is for people to see their wages rise through their efforts rather than through taxation of other people put into their pay packets."

This was backed by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith who said there was support elsewhere, and called the uplift a sensible temporary part of the response to the pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavi

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). Picture date: Monday July 5, 2021. - Credit: PA

Ms Parrin, who can't work due to severe mental health issues, has been on Universal Credit since 2018 and has a two-year-old and a 15 and 16-year-old to look after.


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She's been at breaking point in the past, but says the extra money made the world of difference.

Her partner Stuart Pillar works but does not earn enough to feed the whole family. They rely on UC payments to top-up Mr Pillar's salary.

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Ms Parrin explained: "Before the uplift, it felt like we were robbing Peter to pay Paul.

"We were borrowing money to get by, and relying on food parcels from the school my kids go to.

"The extra money meant we could get in more of the essentials from the weekly shop, like bread and milk, and nappies and wipes for my two-year-old.

"Since we got the extra money I haven't had to go without food so my kids can eat. But I can see us going back that way."

A new foodbank has been set up in The Living Studio at the Adat Yeshua synagogue in Essex Street, No

The Adat Yeshua synagogue in Essex Street, Norwich. Picture: The Living Studio - Credit: Archant

Ms Parrin said her children's school had been fantastic — and had provided them with laptops and uniforms so the children wouldn't go without.

But she explained: "I want people in power to step into my shoes. They have no idea what it's like for folk like us.

"We've had to sit the kids down and explain to them what might happen if we lose this money. It's horrible to think about." 

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