Kimberly's story

Kimberly*, from Suffolk, is recently divorced and lives in a council property with her five children aged two to eighteen. She works part-time at a pre-school. While still married and before her youngest was born, Kimberly was coping well financially. Although the family could not afford luxuries such as holidays abroad, they were able to pay for what they needed and cover their bills.

But today, affected by the two-child limit and unexpectedly providing on her own for five children, she faces a constant juggling act to make ends meet each week, cutting back on essentials and bills when the children need something like new shoes: ‘You have to prioritise what you need more… like if the children need more school shoes and things like that you can’t [just say] ‘Oh I’ll get you a new pair of shoes’, you have to budget… You’d have to cut back on your shopping or you might not be able to put as much gas or electric on that week, or you might have to miss a bill payment .’ She does not want to borrow from friends and family, but has sold on clothes and toys to afford things for her youngest child. High childcare costs mean that Kimberly cannot make up for the impact of the two-child limit by working more hours.

Kimberly worries a lot about money: ‘(it) just causes you unnecessary worry and stress … and you spend your whole life worrying … I can understand how people get ill with worry’. She also knows that her older children sometimes feel embarrassed and excluded at school because they cannot afford the same things as their peers. She would love to treat them occasionally, but does not dare to: You couldn’t possibly just treat them once in a while, ‘cause you don’t know what bill’s going to come through the door or whether they’re going to come home from school and have ripped their school jumper or something like that.’ 

Kimberly did not realise she would be affected by the two-child limit when she became pregnant with her youngest, and now feels that the policy is penalising working people and does not consider how changes in circumstance, such as divorce, can affect people’s financial situation.

Names have been changed

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