It is not the hot weather keeping single mother Nicola Marshall awake at night, but growing worries over money.
The 37-year-old is unable to sleep because of the impending Budget, and the rumoured cuts to child tax credit which could see her and daughter slip into poverty.
Nicola, whose daughter Lily is 11 years old, just about manages to make ends meet with her wages from her part time job, topped up with the credits.
But a report produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies last month suggested that should the credits be slashed, it could leave families up to £1,400 a year worse off.
Nicola is distraught by the proposal, and has joined more than 290,000 others in signing a petition calling on Chancellor George Osborne not to take the axe to the credits.
Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Nicola said: “At night time when I go to bed, I don’t sleep because I am worried about everything, about the thought of going back to life where I can’t afford a loaf of bread.”
She described the “exhaustion” of having to constantly worry about money, and said: “It’s very easy for the Government to make these cuts, but they don’t realise the reality.
“It’s really stressful. The reason I got emotional is quite genuine. I have sleepless nights. I am so sick of my life being controlled by other people.”
David Skelton, director of the Conservative pressure group Renewal, told the BBC’s Newsnight last month cutting child tax credits would encourage companies to pay higher wages and also incentivise people on part-time contracts to work more hours.
Nicola, who works as an insurance administrator and is paid £11,000 a year, dismissed the claims, and said: “I think people don’t understand the situation.
“People say employers need to pay the living wage, well, I am on more than the living wage but it’s because of the fact that I can’t do more hours that I can’t earn more.
“It’s limited the hours you can do as a single parent.”
She added: “I got a pay rise in April this year. I am worse off because I have had tax credits taken away and lost some of my housing benefit.
“What they have taken away from me is more than what the pay rise is.”
Reducing child tax credits to 2003/4 levels – plus inflation – would affect 3.7 million families, according to the IFS.
Nicola, who won’t be present when the campaigning group 38 Degrees present the petition to Downing Street tomorrow as she can’t take the time off work, is angry working families could be hit by more cuts.
She said: “[Other people] are so judgemental, and this Government makes them like it.
“I worked for all my life, I did the right thing. I wish they would see what life is really like.
“I don’t know what they want from people. I have always worked. I was earning £40,000 a year in my 20s.
“It’s not just about the money, it’s pure exhaustion they are causing people, but you have got to stay strong for your children.
Nicola added: “I always feel like I have to explain myself.
“My ex-husband is ever so supportive, but he’s got his own bills to pay.
“I was married, but life happens and I have tried to pick up the pieces.”
Asked what she would say to the Chancellor if she had the chance, Nicola replied: “I would tell him that life is not black and white.”
Nicola admits she is fortunate that during the school holidays there are family members who can provide childcare for Lily while she is at work.
She said: “I am lucky because I come from a decent family.
“If I didn’t have that, like many people don’t, then even without these cuts we would be living in poverty.
“My ex-husband pays maintenance and my family treat us to things at Christmas and birthdays.”
The Conservatives vowed to carry out a further £12billion of welfare cuts if they won this year’s General Election.
The party’s surprise majority means the Chancellor is able to push forward with the cuts in the first Tory-only Budget for 18 years.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has spoken out against cutting tax credits, and last week said: “Before we start hacking back on people’s in-work benefits, we’ve got to look at the low pay from corporations that could be coughing up much, much more to help them.”
A spokeswoman for 38 Degrees said: "Over 285,000 people have signed the petition telling George Osborne to leave cuts that hit children out of his budget.
“On Tuesday, families and campaigners will be handing the petition to save Child Tax Credits in to the Treasury at midday.
“Everyone is welcome to come along and add to the pressure to save this essential support for families. Families will be meeting at 11am in St James' park beforehand for a picnic before handing in the petition together at midday."Suggest a correction