The reality of life without a Living Income.
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As a zero-hour contract worker all work was suspended indefinitely, with no furlough. Myself and colleagues are either students or working other jobs so we could not apply for universal credit support. It has been assumed we will be available to resume work at 12 days notice this April, without being questioned about personal circumstances. The drop in income led to me getting further into debt to cover the cost of living.
It really feels like self-employed people were hung out to dry. The government was fully aware of the gaps in support, but it seems they were more interested in supporting businesses than individuals. On average I pay £15k of tax a year. So it was pretty galling to find that the government seemed to view me as a tax dodger
Working as an actor and translator, I lost about 70% of my income. I have no support from anyone, and I can't see that my previous work situation will come back any time soon. I could no longer afford my rent.
I lost my job due to Covid and was eventually furloughed, but only for a few months and only after negotiating with my boss (who was unsure about the system). In the end, Covid actually enabled me to find a new career path that I really enjoy, which I might never have found. But it has also been incredibly stressful. I have had little to no job or financial security and I feel like I’ve been anxious the entire time.
Jobs are so scarce, hundreds applying. I'm applying all the time, but get no response. Depression has set in because I have a growing debt. The bank is charging me 40% interest on my overdraft, so that's effectively UC money going direct to the bank. I'm in debt to the gas, electric and water. I had my internet cut off for six months over the summer, which made it impossible to look for work. I just wish the govt would create more jobs - a lot more and give us stimulus cheque like in the US, or cancel our debts. The debt collectors aren't being heavy handed yet, but they will be.
As a recent graduate, I had hoped to start working in a full time position in a sector I am interested in. However covid meant reduced opportunities, and I had to rely on furlough money from my part time retail job, which wasn’t very much and definitely not enough to sustain myself on. I feel grateful that I’ve been able to live at my parents house, however it is not an ideal situation and my mental health has suffered as a result. I have felt in a general state of anxiety and depression, and I have lost confidence in my ability to find a well paid job that reflects my skills. I now work in a school as a teaching assistant, but the pay is still below what is need to live independently.
I've felt constantly stressed about meeting my basic needs. I received an insurance payout in November after being hit by a car in 2019, which took some weight off me financially, but I still feel anxious about finishing my college course and not being able to get a job. Things are so competitive right now and it feels like nothing I do will be enough.
I caught a virus in Oct 19, symptoms exactly like Covid. After this I experienced long term exhaustion and was diagnosed with ME in Mar 20. I tried to return to work in May 20, but after 6 weeks on supported phased return I had to use holiday to make up hours. The combination of stress, Covid restrictions and trying to work more hours made me ill. I went back off sick and was retired due to ill health in Sep 20 after 25 years of service. I do have a small work pension, but will not qualify for state pension for 3 years, so I cannot afford my mortgage. I have to sell my family home and my mortgage debt is meanwhile increasing.
My income wasn't much due to moving to a new region and having to start up again with no contacts, but I was working at it and making progress. That all came to a stop with lockdown - I tried to get a new online business going but it's been very hard, so my income has been absolutely minimal. It's not so much the money, more the feeling that I'm worthless and nobody's aware of the fact that so many people have been excluded from government help. It's unfair and undeserved, yet we've been called fraudsters and deadweights, and that's the impression that the public have taken away - just as the government intended. It's a shameful way to treat people like myself - I've worked and paid taxes all my life yet have been completely excluded. All in this together? Rubbish!
I was furloughed last year for several months, but after six months back at work I've now been made redundant. I work in the charity sector, and the funding for my job role was discontinued by the funding organisation who were trying to spread their resources around several service providers. Ironically, I have gone from advising clients about their benefits claims, to needing to claim benefits myself. I am a woman in my 60s and it's the second time I have been made redundant in five years. I have had caring responsibilities all my adult life, and I only have a very small private pension, so I can't 'retire early' as some people are able to do when faced with redundancy at my age. I am grateful that we still have a welfare state in the UK, but it seems to be shrinking all the time, and many people, like myself, are facing an anxious future.
My Mum lives a three-hour drive from us. She has Parkinson's and deteriorated very significantly during the lockdowns, to the point of developing dementia symptoms. This has been hugely worrying, and also very time consuming trying to support her remotely and negotiating with social workers and GPs. This cut into my ability to do my job in terms of time and my ability to focus and work. (I was so emotionally drained and not sleeping). At the same time my husband lost all of his work over a six-month period but wasn't eligible for financial support, so I had to carry the family financially, putting more pressure on me to earn money which I was struggling to do. All of this has put a huge burden on me emotionally, to the point where, for a long time, I've been feeling utterly overwhelmed and just not coping. We are lucky that we have some savings to help us through this time. God only knows how we would have managed if we didn't.