Janet* and her husband Peter* live with their three children in the Wirral, England. Janet is pregnant with her fourth child and this will be their second child together; her eldest daughters are from a previous relationship. Being in a working household, Janet thought that she and her family would be able to cope, but this is proving much harder than she anticipated following the introduction of the two-child limit.
Prior to having their own children, Janet and Peter were coping well financially. They had a car and were in a position to be able to save money for their wedding. After getting married, Janet and Peter decided to have children together and, with Peter in full-time work, they were not worried about the financial implications: ‘We thought, “It’s okay, you’re still working full-time, it’s manageable, we can do it”’. However, things changed for Janet and her family when they realised they would no longer receive any support for their third child and they now worry how they will cope with their unborn fourth child: ‘I did try and go for a termination and I just couldn’t do it’.
To the best of her ability, Janet prioritises her children’s educational experiences, one of whom was recently accepted into grammar school, which is proving very costly: ‘Already they want money, because they are going away in the first week they start – so that’s £172 and then R’s school, they want £135 for a school trip as well.’
Janet makes sacrifices herself to ensure that her children eat well: ‘We try our best, obviously, and make sure they’re well fed, and we just pick up the left overs if they leave anything, or just toast’.
Janet admits that their financial situation is getting to her, especially with the impending birth:
‘…it’s a depressing situation, it’s absolutely awful especially when I’m pregnant and thinking what am I going to do for clothes and stuff…It’s a constant worry, you’re constantly writing stuff down and checking how much money you’ve got, seeing if you can do things’.
Janet feels that her children pick up on this anxiety, too, and feels guilty having to cut out family trips: ‘It’s like they say “Oh Mum, can we do something this Saturday?” And it’s like, no, they can’t because we’re not going to have any [money] to last for the next week’.
If the two-child limit policy were lifted, Janet would be able to buy better quality food and pay for clubs which would improve her children’s health and well-being. She would also be able to plan things better, rather than be caught off-guard with a seemingly small expense such as a birthday party: ‘you start panicking, because obviously you can’t just go there without the presents or the cards for the friend, you’re thinking, God, by the time I get there, it’s travel money and then you have to put a fiver in the card. It all adds up.'
Janet did look into at a job at a supermarket, but worked out that they would be no better off after paying the nursery fees.
*All names have been changed.
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