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Mother and daughter lived off party food after switching to Universal Credit

PUBLISHED: 15:59 22 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:16 23 February 2019

Roxy Theobald and her daughter Bella were forced to rely on donations of food from friends and food banks in December and January. PHOTO; Sophie Smith

Roxy Theobald and her daughter Bella were forced to rely on donations of food from friends and food banks in December and January. PHOTO; Sophie Smith

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A mother has spoken out against Universal Credit after she and her seven-year-old daughter survived on party leftovers for days.

Roxy Theobald and her daughter Bella were forced to rely on donations of food from friends and food banks in December and January. PHOTO; Sophie SmithRoxy Theobald and her daughter Bella were forced to rely on donations of food from friends and food banks in December and January. PHOTO; Sophie Smith

Roxy Theobald, 26, from Long Stratton, said the benefits shake-up is upsetting and unfair.

She said: “I want to stick to the courier work but Universal Credit is making it so difficult. The system is so unfair, I would be better off if I was unemployed.”

Although Miss Theobald started her current courier job in April 2017, it has been since December last year she has felt the pinch.

She said: “I’m getting about £370 less than I was on tax credits. I had to get out quite a few pay day loans to see us through Christmas.

“Things were bouncing off my account, I had someone come to take a repayment and couldn’t pay it. Eventually I borrowed money off a relative and received food bank parcels. A friend gave us leftover party food we ate for a few days, chicken nuggets and sausage rolls.

“I don’t struggle with mental health now but I have in the past. I believe working, getting out, meeting people, doing something for the community is a positive thing.

“When I haven’t got enough to pay the bills I have just had a bit of a cry. The next day you just keep on trying. What people go through with Universal Credit is so upsetting.”

Miss Theobald, who is self employed on a minimum wage, has been on the controversial benefits system since last October. She said after petrol expenses her income is often just £450 per month, despite Department of Work and Pensions expectations that she earn £822, based on working 25 hours per week on national minimum wage.

A taper rate applied to her full earnings excluding expenses means £393 a month is deducted from her Universal Credit payment of between £1,099 and £1,300. Combined with repayments for an advance government loan, in January she said she was left with £68 for the month.

She said: “I work part time as Bella has only really got me. I want to be there for her when she has a play or sports day.”

A DWP spokesman said: “After repayments were made for a number of debts, Ms Theobald received over £1,300 last month in Universal Credit and earnings from her business. She has declined budgeting support but Job Centre staff are supporting her to pay off other debts, including her car insurance.”

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