Mum-of-three on Universal Credit after husband died can’t afford to eat meat

A cash-strapped widow has been forced to become vegetarian – because the struggles of living on Universal Credit means she cannot afford to eat meat.

Jennifer Spice, 52, has been reliant on food banks following the heartbreaking death of husband Haydn from cancer, and being made redundant from her customer services job.

Mum-of-three Jennifer said she has been sucked into a poverty trap, Stoke-on-Trent Live reports .

She says her financial woes have not been helped by the controversial Universal Credit (UC) changes.

Now Jennifer is one of 43 researchers who have gone into communities on behalf of Staffordshire University and the Hardship Commission to try to lift the lid on what life is really like below the breadline.

She said: “I lost my pride a long time ago to keep the family going.

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“I have got 10 O-Levels and four A-Levels, but I can’t get a job. I applied for four jobs recently and didn’t even get an interview for any of them.

“My husband died in 2017 and I had to pull myself together for the kids. When he was diagnosed with cancer he was given two years, but he lasted 10. But what this has done is given me strength to know that I’m not alone.”

When Jennifer and Haydn moved to Stoke-on-Trent they bought a derelict property at auction and planned to renovate it themselves.

But that was not possible after Haydn’s health deteriorated and the property was so bad that some rooms were uninhabitable.

It meant the couple and their three children – who are now aged 11, 15 and 20 – all had to sleep in the same room – until BBC's DIY SOS came along to fix the house.

The family received a lump sum following Haydn's death and Jennifer used it to buy a car. But the family has continued to be stuck in the poverty trap.

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