Single mum of five says her £18K benefit is not enough to buy her kids’ school uniform – but she still finds cash for fags and takeaways

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.

 Emma receives over £18,000 a year in government handouts

6

Emma receives over £18,000 a year in government handoutsCredit: ITN/Channel 5

“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.”

 The 26-year-old says looking after five kids on her benefit money is hard

6

The 26-year-old says looking after five kids on her benefit money is hardCredit: ITN/Channel 5
 Emma's children tuck into pizza slices

6

Emma’s children tuck into pizza slicesCredit: ITN/Channel 5

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.

 Emma has never worked and has been on benefits for 10 years

6

Emma has never worked and has been on benefits for 10 yearsCredit: ITN/Channel 5

“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.

 She hopes to get a job or go to college when her kids grow up

6

She hopes to get a job or go to college when her kids grow upCredit: ITN/Channel 5
 Emma treats her kids to takeaways and buys cigarettes

6

Emma treats her kids to takeaways and buys cigarettesCredit: ITN/Channel 5

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.

The Sun Wolverhampton