Family of nine ‘surviving on just £480 a month’ after benefits slashed by cap

A family of nine say they are struggling to survive on £480 a month after their benefits were dramatically slashed.

Ryan Rodgers, 26, and his partner Jenny Grimes, 25, say they used to receive £2,100 a month in financial support.

But the couple – who have seven children all under the age of seven – say the introduction of the benefits cap has decimated their finances and left them reliant on food banks.

They say they have been left with no option but to launch an appeal on GoFundMe for help as Christmas approaches.

The family receive £669.50 a month once the benefit cap and the cost of renting their home is deducted, reports the Liverpool Echo .

But in practice, they say they have to survive on just £480 a month, because money is deducted for the advance payment they received when they first moved onto Universal Credit .

The advance payment is a loan applicants can get to cover the five-week wait before their first payment, but it has to then be paid off in future weeks.

As a result, the nine-strong family from Liverpool, with their children all aged seven and under, to regularly rely on food banks and the generosity of friends and family offers.

But their situation has got so desperate the couple decided to go public about their struggle.

They have asked for cash donations from strangers in an online fundraising appeal.

On GoFundMe, Mrs Grimes said: "We are a young couple with seven children trying to get back on our feet after becoming homeless having to start all over again from fresh.

"We have been benefit capped to the bare minimum and we are really struggling to get by.

"Our situation is being much more a struggle with Christmas being only a few weeks away.

"We feel really ashamed to have to do this as we've never had to do anything like this before.

"I hate to have to do this and it's took a lot for me to actually do it, but there is only so much we can do as a family.

"Any help at all is very much appreciated, even if you could point me in the direction of getting some help. Thank you."


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Ryan and Jenny, previously from Kirkby, Merseyside, look after Ellie, seven, six-year-old twins Kenzie and Kelsie, Laysie, four, Archie, two and two twin boys who are only seven months – Tobie and Rylie.

They currently live in a three bedroom property in north Liverpool, paying £675 for rent.

The family was once homeless and had to live in a Premier Inn hotel, paid for by the council.

Mr Rodgers, who used to work in restaurants as a waiter, said he had been washing cars to pay for his family's electricity bills.

His plight has affected his mental health and he suffers from depression and anxiety, describing how his situation has left him feeling "useless."

It also led to him becoming an alcoholic, which he has now battled through.

A charity called Care UK, based in Warrington, have been invaluable, the dad said, providing the family-of-nine with regular food parcels.

Mr Rodgers, who has been with Ms Grimes for seven years, said: "With Christmas, there's so much we need but can't provide for the kids as a family.

"It's got to the stage where we've got to do something about it.

"Food banks only go so far. It's a real struggle. I have friends without children who get more than us.

"Just the one baby costs £40 a week. I want to get full-time work but I can't with the kids.

"We have to speak out, we've not go a choice, it's no longer how I feel, the children are the priority.

"We need an opportunity. It's out of order we can just be left to get on with it. We've been set up to fail as parents by the state.

"There's nobody to contact about our situation, the Job Centre workers just tell us it's not their department.

"Decisions have been made at a really high level and that's just the way it is.

"It's demoralising, going to food banks and them knowing your first name and talking to you as your friend.

"It's not nice to have to ask for help, but we have to."

The Lib Dem-Tory Coalition government introduced the benefit cap in 2013.

At the time of the introduction, the government said it was designed to cap benefits to the average working wage of £500 a week (£2,000 a month).

It was further reduced in 2016 to £384.62 a week for couples outside greater London (£1,538 a month).

The Conservatives' election manifesto says it will continue the Universal Credit rollout, but promises to increase benefits in line with inflation from next April if they hold power.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey recently said introducing Universal Credit  "has helped support record employment in the UK, with unemployment now at the lowest level in 45 years."

Labour has pledged to scrap Universal Credit if it gets into power, lift the benefits cap and axe the two-child limit on additional benefit payments.

Its manifesto says: "Labour will scrap UC. We will immediately stop moving people onto it and design an alternative system that treats people with dignity and respect.

The Liberal Democrats have also promised to axe the benefits cap and the two-child limit, and to reform Universal Credit by reducing first payment waiting times and ending sanctions rather than scrapping the controversial welfare regime entirely.

To donate, visit the family's Go Fund Me page here .

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