Mum-of-eight sees benefits ‘cut’ as she survives on ‘beans on toast for tea’

A mum-of-eight is surviving on beans on toast for tea as she struggles to feed her family during the cost of living crisis.

Pam Booth, 51, from Leeds, says she can only afford to buy fruit once a month before going to her local foodbank.

The mother, who is on benefits, said she ” wouldn’t be able to eat ” without the free food, LeedsLive reports.

Pam, who is on benefits, added that a significant chunk of her Universal Credit is cut because she is studying to become a teaching assistant.

She and her children, aged eight, 13, 15, 17, 21, 23, 27 and 29, have been visiting the local foodbank for about four months.

Pam said: “It’s healthy good food that they [the food bank] give you.

“Before we had this option it would be like beans on toast on a night time.

“Since we’ve been up here, going to the pantry, being able to have dinner has really helped on a night time.

“We don’t have takeaways because we can’t afford takeaways. We were having to live on whatever we had in before we came up here.

“Coming up here, we’re able to have whatever we want.

“The kids get fresh fruit from here. Before we started coming here, we were going out and buying fruit once a month.”

Pam also has to provide for her pet chihuahua and her daughter’s Staffordshire bull terrier.

She is currently receiving Universal Credit while studying to become a special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistant.

This makes it even more of struggle, however, as she claims she gets a significant chunk of her benefits knocked off due to being a student.

The 51-year-old says other people she knows who are currently unemployed receive more than £300 a month, whereas she says she receives as little as £274 because she’s a student. She thinks the system is broken.

She said: “I’m a student and I get money knocked off for being a student, without coming here then I wouldn’t be able to eat.

“Not a chance, I’ve got to pay rent at £270 a month and the rest of my bills and that lot. Without coming here and the food pantry, I wouldn’t be able to eat.

“It’s been well and truly [challenging] because when you get bills coming in, you’re thinking ‘how on earth are you going to pay that?’

“Because when you’re a student, you get money deducted [from Universal Credit] for being a student.

“They knock your money off. And it’s like ‘Hold on a minute! They should be giving us more money because of the fact we’re getting off us backsides and going out and doing something!’

“Why can’t students be given more money? Get them out there, get them doing more.”

Pam says there are a lot of people visiting the foodbank who are “really truly struggling”.

She’s really bonded with other members of the Seacroft community who are also using the foodbank’s services.

The student teaching assistant is currently training at the Bishop Young Church of England Academy.

SEN teaching 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 which affects many parts of the body.

Pam has said her current situation is “worth the struggle to improve other children’s lives” which she will be able to do once she is fully qualified.