AN unemployed single dad claims he must choose between “eating or heating” as his child benefit payment is not enough to live on.
Trained chef Paul Gallacher, 47, is struggling to find work to buy the basics for daughter Mollie-Mae, five, including “perishable fresh food”.
Paul said: “At the end of the month she is not getting healthy food, it is stuff out the freezer or packet foods which isn’t healthy.
“Fresh food just perishes far too easily, it is hard to store it and keep it good.
“I do what I can, but sometimes I have to give her frozen chicken nuggets or sausage rolls, which I don’t think is healthy.”
The worried dad, who lives in Dailly, a village in South Ayrshire, told the Daily Record that he “can’t cook for a full month” because of a lack of freezer space.
He explained that when Mollie-Mae needs new clothes or shoes, he’s forced to choose between food or heating to cope financially.
Paul has revealed his plight to show his support for the push to double the Scottish Child Payment.
A coalition of 120 anti-poverty organisations, charities and others is calling on the Scottish Government to “do the right thing” and commit to doubling the payment made to needy parents in this year’s budget.
The group has written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urging her to commit to doubling the Scottish Child Payment – the £10 per week per child benefit for low-income families.
The letter also calls on the UK Government to abandon its plan to end the £20 universal credit rise.
Paul said more money would help, as money is ‘tight’.
He added that it’s been a “struggle from month to month on Universal Credit”.
Sometimes I have to give her frozen chicken nuggets or sausage rolls, which I don’t think is healthy.
Paul Gallacher, single dad
And when his daughter needs clothes or a new pair of shoes he has “had to cut back on something else like electricity”.
The single dad is worried that when the Universal Credit £20 boost stops, “we will be away back to square one”.
The Universal Credit uplift finishes at the end of September, despite calls for the cash help to continue after the brutal Covid pandemic.
Research by Save the Children found that 47 per cent of claimants don’t think they will be able to live on £20 less a week.
Paul said he felt sad that his daughter was missing out on outings, holidays and gifts, as they are often “away out of my price range”.
During the recent heatwave, when he couldn’t afford to buy her a slush puppy to cool down, he admitted the guilt “does get to you”.
He has had two job offers – one in Perth, and the other to be a local delivery driver – but neither was suitable as he doesn’t own a vehicle, and can’t afford to relocate.
CHILD PAYMENT BOOST
Paul is adamant that doubling the Scottish Child Payment to £20 will help give the likes of Mollie-Mae and other kids “a better start in life”.
The End Child Poverty coalition in Scotland warned that if Scottish ministers failed to double the payment now then “more and more children will be pulled into poverty and the opportunity to meet the interim child poverty targets will be missed”.
The boost is needed to give a “lifeline to families who are struggling to stay afloat”, the group added.
It also warned that the pandemic has “exacerbated existing inequalities and pulled many more people – particularly women, the disabled people, and black and minority ethnic people – into hardship”.
The Scottish Government has already introduced the £10 a week Scottish Child Payment to help low-income families with children, which is currently made to those with youngsters under the age of six.
Ministers plan to expand it to older children in 2022, and the SNP has pledged to double the payment to £20 a week in the Holyrood election campaign, but no date has yet been announced.
Source: The Sun