Barrow woman’s battle for a fresh start
Last updated at 16:45, Thursday, 14 March 2013
A BARROW woman fears that benefit cutbacks and the lack of job opportunities means her efforts to get back to work might be in vain.
Sharon Gould spoke of her battle with ill-health after taking part in the Furness Poverty Commission survey, which aims to get a better picture of poverty across the area.
Not so long ago, Ms Gould was living a comfortable life. She had two jobs, regular social engagements and could afford all the basics of modern living – plus a few extras.
But two years ago, when illness suddenly forced her out of work, Sharon was plunged into a cycle of poverty.
The 48-year-old relies on a small employment support allowance – which is under threat – to survive and has had to make dramatic lifestyle changes.
She said: “I worked in retail and I did a bar job as well. I was getting paid weekly and, with having a second job, I got tax credits so had a pretty reasonable standard of living.
“But all that changed when I got sick and now I’m struggling all the time to manage my bills and my food budget because the prices have gone up.”
One of the first money-saving measures Ms Gould took was to cut her social commitments.
She said: “I stay in the house watching telly or going on Facebook.”
Ms Gould lives by herself in a two-bedroom terrace flat in James Street, rented from a housing association.
She worries how she will cope when her housing benefit is cut by £16 a week when the bedroom tax comes into effect in April.
She said: “There’s only me and my pets, but they had no one-bedroom houses available.”
In the last two years, Ms Gould has been busy accumulating qualifications in preparation for a return to the workforce when her health permits.
But she is worried that unless the economy turns around, there will be no opportunities available.
She added: “I’ve got a National Vocation Qualification in customer service and have done computer certificates.
“I’d like to think things will improve. I know there are people worse off than me but the way the job prospects are, it sometimes doesn’t seem like there is any way out.”
l See tomorrow’s Evening Mail for a round-up of the Poverty Commission survey’s results and more case studies.
First published at 16:35, Thursday, 14 March 2013
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
Try turning the Telly off and going to the Jobcentre and instead of Facebook cast an eye over the Jobsites for Barrow. There are near on 3000 jobs advertised....
it is very brave of this lady to come forward and put her story in the paper, all you have left is your pride when this happens to you. It is an appalling situation when people are being forced to pay this money when they already have so little. The bedroom tax does not affect me but I have been searching for a long time for a smaller place and there are none. This government want to get this into prospective, build smaller places for those who need them and then we might have a chance of moving. Another way they have found to make the ones without to pay for all the damage done by them, the banks and at every turn they are making those who haven't got the money pay. Successive governments starting with Maggie Thatcher sold of council houses and did not build more with the money realised. Now due to that policy they are demonising the people who did not take advantage of the scheme. Something else they should remember is that most of the people who they deem to under occupying find somewhere to live it will probably be in private sector housing and the rents are at least double. So how will it save the government on housing benefits if they are going to pay at least double the amount.