A MUM-OF-EIGHT has told how she struggled to feed her children after her benefits were ‘cut’.
Pam Booth, 51, receives £274 a month in Universal Credit while studying to become a teaching assistant for children with special needs.
Of that, £270 is spent renting her flat in Leeds, West Yorkshire, leaving next to nothing for food – forcing the mum to rely on food banks for help.
Pam says being a student means she receives less Universal Credit than if she were simply unemployed.
She has friends who receive over £300 in benefits without working.
Lack of funds prevents her from feeding her four youngest children, aged 13, 15, 17 and 21. The four eldest – aged 21, 23, 27 and 29 – live elsewhere.
Pam also has to support her pet Chihuahua and her daughter’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
The mum said: “I’m a student and I get money for being a student.
“Without coming [to the food bank] I couldn’t eat.
“I have to pay rent of £270 a month and the rest of my bills and all that.
“It was fine [challenging] because when you get bills, you’re like, ‘how are you going to pay for this?'”
Pam says the Universal Credit system needs to change.
She added: “When you’re a student you get money deducted [from Universal Credit] to be a student.
“They make you lose your money. And it’s like ‘Wait a minute! They should give us more money because we let it go and we go out and do something!’
“Why can’t we give more money to students? Get them out, get them to do more.”
Pam says there are a lot of people who visit the food bank who are “really struggling”.
The Teaching Assistant student is currently undergoing training at the Bishop Young Church of England Academy.
Teaching children is close to her heart, as she has two children with special needs.
One of her daughters has cerebral palsy and another has Williams syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects many parts of the body.
Pam said her current situation is “worth fighting for to improve the lives of other children” when she is fully qualified.
But if you start studying, it will likely affect your application for Universal Credit, even if you don’t take out a student loan or grant.
If you decide to study part-time and take out a student loan, you will be eligible to claim Universal Credit as long as you can still meet the work-related requirements of your Universal Credit.
This means that you must continue to look for a job during your studies.
It may be possible to reduce your work-related commitments if your course can be seen as preparing you for your job.
Brits should talk to their work coach about it.
Earlier, The Sun revealed five big changes in August you need to know about – including Universal Credit Direct Payments.