A single mum on Universal Credit says swapping her supermarket job for a better career has left her in debt.
Hollie Wilson, from Yeovil, says she would haven been better off keeping her part-time job at Tesco rather using her university degree, in Italian, to accept a position of a communications and community officer.
The 34-year-old was offered the job when she had her second daughter and her nursery fees are more than £800 which she now has to pay with a credit card, reports Somerset Live.
The mum of two has racked up huge debts after losing hundreds of pounds from Universal Credit and now faces using a food bank just so she can feed her family.
"A single parent on Universal Credit is unlikely to have a huge income, but one trying to better themselves by getting a new, better job, is now £70 a month in debt," she said.
“The government wants to get women back into work after having children, yet they have been the opposite of helpful with me."
The Department for Work and Pensions said the system was providing a "vital safety net for people on low wages" and that Hollie received £2,300 in Universal Credit in January.
But the mum of two said she received £1,007 in January while her bills without food or petrol come to £1,056 a month.
She said: "It would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic. We all know how awful the effects of Universal Credit have been on thousands of people nationwide."
Hollie applied for help with February’s £820 nursery fee on January 17.
Afterwards she said: "I’ve been offered £300 and I can apparently visit a food bank if I come back in and apply for a hardship scheme.
"The way my assessment period works I’ve been deducted £300 from my Universal Credit payment today.
"If they did it from the beginning of the month to the end then I could have kept £250 of December’s wage and £250 of January.
"Instead, they say I’ve been paid twice in one month so they’ve deducted £300.
"I’m also in debt to them by nearly £70 a month to pay back the loan I took out to cover January’s nursery bill.
"I genuinely would have been better off financially not bothering to even get the job because now she’s (her daughter) in nursery already they won’t pay for anything to help me.
"I honestly wish I didn’t apply for it but it’s too good an opportunity to pass up.
"It’s just so disheartening that I’m now in debt and will be struggling with money for the next month or two to the point that I might have to use a food bank in order to have a better job/life for my family.
"I’m feeling really stressed about it and can’t believe there isn’t a better option for women with children who get stung by huge nursery bills when they start a new job."
Hollie was a lecturer at Yeovil College when she became pregnant with her second daughter in 2018.
Needing help with housing for herself and two daughters she enrolled on the Universal Credit scheme.
She said: "I thought the government wants people to get back into work? I'm doing it two years early and I'm being punished for it as I will have to get myself into debt to do it! It is just absolutely unbelievable."
Having previously worked as a teacher, she was working eight hours a week in a Tesco supermarket, something she said is “not exactly a great career move."
In December 2019, she was offered a job as communication and community officer.
She said: "I can't say no to this job but how on earth will I pay the nursery fees?
"Surely someone with some common sense can see that it's in their best interest to help me with £600 now to start a new job, so that I won't need Universal Credit, rather than keep paying me Universal Credit for the next 2/3 years?!”
In response to Hollie's claims a DWP spokesperson said:
“This month Ms Wilson has been paid around £2,300 in Universal Credit, including an advance and other funding. She will also receive 85% of her childcare costs back through Universal Credit.
“Ms Wilson is free to look for other work that utilises her degree, and jobcentre staff will look for job opportunities for her.
"Universal Credit is a force for good, providing a vital safety net for people who are out of work or on low wages.
"It replaces an out-of-date, complex system, and latest statistics show more 2.8 million people across the UK are now supported by the benefit."