A SINGLE mum says her £18,200-a-year benefits handout isn’t enough to cover her living costs and buy her children school uniforms.
Emma Lawlor, 26, from Wolverhampton, became pregnant when she was just 17 and now has five kids – aged one to eight – by two different dads. She has never had a job.
“I never thought I’d have this many kids to be honest with you. I love them though, wouldn’t change them for the world,” she told Channel 5’s On Benefits: Breadline Brummies.
Emma has recently split up with the dad of her four youngest children meaning she has to run the family’s three bedroom housing association property on her own.
She said: “As you can imagine it’s a lot of washing with five kids.
“My tumble dryer is on all the time. I do go through a lot of electric and washing powder.”
Emma currently receives child benefits and child tax credit but has now put in a claim to get income support. She would receive an extra £280 a month if successful.
“Some people might look at me and think, ‘She’s a single mum, she’s scrounging!’, but I’m not,” she said.
“The money that I get is for my children. It goes on clothes, it goes on food, nappies, baby wipes, none of it goes on me.”
Emma says she is “doing the best by my kids” and plans to do “something good with my life” such as get a career or go to college when they are older.
Revealing why she split from her partner, she told the programme: “We’ve decided it’s not working out and I’m putting the kids first. I do get on with him still though. He still comes and sees the kids.”
As well as her benefit money, Emma also receives cash from her ex but she says making ends meet is a struggle.
“I’m just making that money last me, trying to prioritise the stuff that I need,” she said.
Emma has to pay £5 a month towards her rent, £20 on electricity bills, £7 on water and £15 on gas. She also spends £120 a week on food.
Despite having less cash, there are certain luxuries she can’t live without. She is seen buying a packet of 20 cigarettes on the show and spending £18 on a chip shop supper.
“When the income support comes in it will help me. I need to get them some school uniform and bits of clothes. They are growing out of it now,” she said.
Although Emma has spent the last decade on benefits, she wants a different life for her children.
“I want the best for my kids. I hope they do well. Better than I have with my life,” she said.
At the end of the programme, Emma is granted her claim for income support which means she pockets an extra £280 a month.
“I’m glad it’s been sorted out because it’s really helped me get my kids more stuff,” she said.
On Benefits: Breadline Brummies airs on Channel 5 at 8pm.