Radio Sandwell Local News

Mum-of-eight Marie Buchan attacks new benefits cap

2015-01-28 22:42:42

Marie BuchanBirmingham single mum, Marie Buchan with her eight children at their Selly Oak home

Single mum-of-eight Marie Buchan told how she is looking for her first ever job following proposed new Government benefit cuts and said: "I'm being forced into work."

And she says new plans by David Cameron to reduce the benefits cap from £26,000 to £23,000 could leave her young family on the breadline, as she will be £58 per week worse off.

Marie, 33 and from Selly Oak, has now made an appointment with the Jobcentre in a bid to find part-time work to boost her reduced income.

She told the Mail: "This benefits cap is getting out of control. I have an appointment with the Jobcentre next week and it will be my first ever job. I am being forced into work.

"I think you are going to get similar cases as to what happened with the bedroom tax - people taking their own life due to the financial pressures they are feeling. It will hit people that hard."

She added: "I was very shocked when I heard David Cameron's plans for capping. It was bad enough when the benefits were capped last time.

"I have eight children who need to be fed and clothed and properly looked after, but it's so difficult to do so when money is so tight. I think most are struggling to pay rent under the current cap - I know I am. It is a constant struggle."

Yet even if she gets a 16-hour a week job, Marie will still receive her full benefits.

She said: "I went to a work focus interview and was told if I work for 16 hours a week I would get my full rent paid - I am currently paying full rent under the cap. I would be so much better off as I would still be entitled to child tax credit and child benefit, and then also up to £350 child care.

"It appears going back to work may be the only option for me.

"I know I will be the better person for working but it will be tough with eight children to look after. I did attempt to start work in the past and had it all in place to do a 16 hour cleaning job but the kids didn't want to get ready in the morning, so I could leave. It is going to be so tough."

Marie hit the headlines after telling the Mail last year how she could not live on £500-a-week benefits after David Cameron introduced the initial £26,000 benefits cap back in 2013 - said to be the average household weekly wage.

She says she currently works a 21 hour day looking after her eight children, all aged under 13, as she get up at 6am and does not get to bed some days until 3am. Marie said at that time that she counts every penny she spends and gets by scouring eBay, car boot sales and charity shops for bargains.

Mr Cameron said he was responding to public concerns that £26,000 cap, which sets a maximum limit for state support for individual households, was set at too high a level. He said money saved from the proposed post-general election cuts would be used to fund new apprenticeship schemes. The cap, he added, would also encouraged thousands more people to look for work.

Mr Cameron said: "This is about being ambitious for Britain. We can give many more young people the chance to get on. We can help people into work and out of poverty. We can secure a better future for everyone in Britain - but only if we stick to our long-term plan."

Labour has said it backs the principle of a cap but will ask an independent commission to look into the level it should be set at.

But critics have said a lower cap could increase levels of child poverty.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: "Let's be absolutely clear - the benefit cap is at least nine times more likely to affect children than adults, and the majority of adults it hits are lone parents, many of whom have children so young even the Government recognises they should not be required to work.

"Britain is facing a looming child poverty crisis; lowering the benefit cap would bring it several steps closer. It would pile on the misery for working and non-working families already struggling to pay for absolute basics.

"Rather than taking away money from the poorest, politicians of all parties need to tackle the root causes of higher social security spending, which include soaring childcare and housing costs and low pay."

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