The adequacy of social security: Kim's experience

Published on: 
25 May 2022
Written by: 

Kim, Covid Realities

Is the benefit system financially adequate? The honest answer to that has to be no. Due to this fact my family along with millions of others are being plunged deeper into debt, desperation and an era of complete poverty. 

My name is Kim. I live in Wales with my husband and four children. My husband works in construction, but he lost his job during the pandemic leaving us reliant on benefits.

We cannot afford to heat our home we have had to resort to many layers of clothes and hot water bottles, watching my children cry and shiver trying to dress for school in a morning is heartbreaking. Having to plan when we can have the hot water on has resulted in us only showering once a week and washing out of the sink heated with kettle boiled water throughout the rest of the week. 

We are also now at a point where we are essentially rationing what little food we do have, my children do not have snacks or free access to fresh fruit as the cost is far too high. Fresh fruit and vegetables should not be a luxury. 

My children are not able to be carefree children, we have had to sit them down and try to explain why we cannot just put the heating on or why they cannot just have a snack. And also why we cannot do fun family things like their friends’ families do, and why they cannot go to the birthday parties of their school fiends. No child should have to worry about money yet my children and many others from families in similar circumstances do! 

As a mother I cannot express the impact this has had on my mental and emotional health. Everyday I feel I am letting my children down, I cannot keep them warm or keep their tummies full, they are not able to have the childhood deserved to them. 

The only way this will change is if people in power actually listen to people with lived experience.

I have been working with Covid Realities for many months which has given me a platform to publicly give families struggling with poverty a voice, I have done radio and newspaper interviews, been a part of a zine and taken part in webinars. I have done these things because we need to be heard, we need someone to stop, listen and help us out of these impossible situations. 

All too often we are ignored and made to feel like the country’s dirty secret, this needs to change and change quickly. A light needs to be shone on us as opposed to forgetting about us and the true impact their decisions have on so many already desperate families.

These are some changes we feel need to happen to ensure adequacy within the social security system, including the need to raise benefits in line with the current levels of inflation, the need to end the benefit cap, and to make sure there is targeted support for families with children. These changes would make a huge difference to families like mine trapped in this never ending cycle of poverty. It would mean families could live rather than barely surviving, it would mean children got to be children and not worry about if their parents can afford that educational school trip or when the next time their tummies will be full.

Covid Realities is funded by the Nuffield Foundation, but the views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the Foundation.