Kelly Thomson, 43, is struggling to live on around £160 per month and has had to cut back on meals and electricity to make ends meet for her and her two children
A single mum has revealed how she is surviving on just one meal a day and has to use candles to light her home amid the rising cost of living.
Kelly Thomson, 43, said she has been struggling to get by on just £40 per week since getting long Covid in December 2020 when she was signed off from her job as a cleaner.
Although Universal Credit covers her £1,300 monthly rental and a few other costs, Kelly said she is left with around £160 to live on in Slough, Berkshire.
It comes as the official inflation rate shot up to a 30-year high of 7% last month.
Kelly explained she used to spend £12 a week on electricity but after recent energy cost rises, she uses that much in four days.
The mum cannot bear to look at her gas meter and dreads the bill coming in because she won’t be able to pay them.
She has lost two stone in weight because she only eats once a day, and was forced to take her daughter’s birthday gift to Cash Converters to get money for food.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the latest rise in the consumer prices index was the fastest in three decades.
Kelly, who has a son, 14, and daughter, 11, said: “The cost of living is crazy now and I don’t know what I’m going to do. We have nothing. I honestly feel I’m going to have to resort to begging.
“We’re hungry all the time and my clothes are falling off me. I can’t afford to buy any more.
“We can’t afford a social life or even to put music on or watch TV, and our mental health is really suffering. We just go for walks and play board games.”
Kelly said she and her children endured four-day stretches without power last winter before the price rise.
She used candles they all cuddled up in bed together at night to keep warm, with the family relying on neighbors to heat up food.
“I was wearing a vest, long-sleeve top, a hoodie and dressing gown, with tights and leggings under my jeans. We had tights under our pajamas,” the mum said.
In desperation Kelly said she took the family TV and her daughter’s smart TV she was given for her birthday to Cash Converters to buy some food.
But the family of three haven’t had any new clothes since January 2021, Kelly said, and Alfie’s school trousers are very short, and their shirts old and stained.
The mum is used to living on a budget, and tops up from the food bank but says she now can’t afford to feed the family.
She gives the kids breakfast, and they get lunch in school, but she says sharing an evening meal with them is the only time she can feed herself each day.
The thrifty mum also makes her own cleaning products from household items such as vinegar, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda to keep costs down.
And she spends her days scouring the Lidl shelves to snap up yellow-label products – stashing any bargains in the freezer.
Kelly said: “I’m lucky if I get a meal a day. I just get up each morning and get on with it because I have to, I do it for my kids.
“I’m so worried and I cry every day. I’m so frightened I’m going to lose my mind, and I used to be such a happy person. I’m worried about my health, I’m faint with hunger all the time I’ve fought and fought and I just don’t know what to do any more.
“I’m not asking for luxury, just to be able to pay the bills and eat. I worked for 25 years paying National Insurance, and my parents paid all their lives.
“I just don’t know what’s happening in England any more. Boris and the government need to step in and help us – they hand out billions to others and we’re starving, we’re only just surviving now.”
Distressed Kelly explained her £1,271 rent for her three-bed house takes her allowances over £2,000 so money is taken off because of the benefit cap.
Kelly also receives £325 standard allowance, and £520 child support, but after her rent is paid Kelly said she has £600 deducted because she claims child benefit of £35 a week, then £80 a month for two loans she took to buy a bed when they moved, and council tax she couldn’t pay.
After all the deductions Kelly is left with £161 a month for utility bills, council tax, food and clothes.