Lisa* from Scotland lives in a rented two-bedroom home with her partner who works full-time and their blended family of four children, with one more (her partner’s older child) who sometimes stays at their house. Lisa and her family are struggling as there are currently six or seven people living on one wage, and the two-child limit is having a huge impact on them, with the two youngest children both born after the introduction of the two-child limit. Lisa is unable to return to work as her daughter, who has additional needs, requires her support and she no longer has access to free childcare, since her mother passed away.
After separating from her ex-partner with whom she had her two eldest children, Lisa met her new partner and they now have two children together, in addition to her partner’s child from a previous relationship, who sometimes comes to stay with them. After a very difficult time caring for her terminally ill mother and barely seeing her partner who was working over 60 hours a week, they finally moved in together.
Lisa found out about the two-child limit when she had her third (and their first) child, but felt they could manage. However, Lisa’s youngest child was unplanned: ‘I didn’t realise you could fall pregnant again when you’re breastfeeding. I booked a termination, but I couldn’t do it... I kept looking up the financial situation and I wasn’t sure. I felt I was bringing her into poverty, but people around me were saying, “Don’t do it. You’ll regret it’.
Without the extra support, Lisa really struggles to make ends meet after paying rent and bills: ‘We’re living on the breadline really,’ Always cautious with money, Lisa is completely reliant on bargain-hunting to get by: ‘I go on Gumtree for stuff... I got furniture for the wee one’s room there. I got a baby walker there for a tenner. I go to the markets. I don’t even think about new anymore, ‘cause I cannae’.
Lisa is pessimistic about the family’s financial future and feels ashamed that she is unable to afford the extras for her children: ‘There was a trip for my son…for £180… but he didn’t even ask me…his cousin and his pals went…Two weeks ago I took my weans to a soft-play and I didn’t realise the price of it and I had my older kids with me and it would have cost me £40 to get in so I had to walk away’.
Lisa says their financial struggles are impacting on her family’s health: ‘I don’t buy foods that I would like to buy, just food that’s close to nothing… I can’t remember the last time I made a fresh dinner, it’s all stuff I’ve got in my freezer’. Furthermore, Lisa worries about the long-term, developmental impact on her children, particularly her youngest, who has been most affected: ‘I now go to the church on a Friday, it’s the only activity the youngest do, one thing I noticed is my child is so shy with other kids cos she’s not getting any interaction with other kids.’
Worries over money are causing tensions within the family as her teenage children want to fit in with their peers. Lisa feels that lifting the two-child limit would make a world of difference: ‘My kids could do things with their pals, I could take them out. They can have healthier eating…’. She says that she is too ashamed and embarrassed to go to a food bank: ‘People probably look at me and think why have you had more children if you can’t afford them? But my circumstances changed.’
* All names have been changed.
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