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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Monthly cost of Barrow family's life on low wage

THE financial pressure and anxiety of life below the living wage has been described by a mother of two who is struggling to make ends meet.

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DAILY STRUGGLE: Marie Hooper of Piel View Grove, Barrow, with her son Aidan, is angry that her finances would only improve if she and her husband were to separate JON GRANGER REF: 50040748B003

Marie Hooper, of Piel View Grove, Barrow, became the family’s sole provider after a motorbike accident left her husband, Kristian Hooper, unable to work.

The 27-year-old mum has experienced life above the living wage, but had to leave her job as a lifestyle co-ordinator after taking maternity leave for the birth of Aidan, now aged 20 months.

Mrs Hooper is now on a 20-hour-a-week contract as a store assistant at Home Bargains in Barrow, which pays £6.36 per hour.

She said: “Compared to being on the living wage, you miss out on all the little things. We used to have quite a lot of days away as a family, but we just can’t afford that now.

“I know there are people out there a lot worse off than us, but we are finding it hard as we still have all the financial commitments we had last year when we had a lot more money coming in. Now we can’t back out of contracts or pay back our debts.

“When I was on the living wage we had a good spare bit of money each month to be able to put away in case of unexpected bills, but now I can’t afford to save money or set up a pension.”

Mrs Hooper says that the couple’s seven-year-old daughter Shannon is finding it hard to adjust.

“Having to say no to the kids when they want things is hard. Shannon sees her friends going to places like the pictures and asks why we can’t go,” Mrs Hooper said.

The strain on the family’s finances was also increased after Mr Hooper’s incapacity benefit was cut.

“We have worked it out and we have found that we would be better off if we separated, because Kristian would get income support. It’s a nasty feeling and I don’t understand why the government would make it better for a family to split up,” Mrs Hooper said.

The constant anxiety of worrying about the family’s finances and the fact she cannot afford a pension has driven Mrs Hooper to take tablets to help her to sleep at night.

“If businesses paid workers the living wage I think they would find that staff would feel better about themselves and their jobs, and work harder,” she added.

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