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As a Low Income Single Parent, I Feel That No Matter How Hard I Work, I Will Always Be Struggling to Provide for My Children

07/08/2015 15:28 BST | Updated 07/08/2016 10:59 BST

To mark 100 days of the first Conservative government in nearly 20 years, HuffPost UK is running 100 Days of Dave, a special series of blog posts from grassroots campaigners to government ministers, single parents to first-year students, reflecting on what's worked and what hasn't, whilst looking for solutions to the problems we still face

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I am a single working mum with six children. And as a working parent, I totally agree with Cameron's statement at the Conservative's conference in 2014: "Families come first, they are the way you make a nation strong from the inside out. I care deeply about people who struggle to get on."

Since becoming single in 2013, life has become a struggle - juggling six children, a part-time job as a secondary teacher and running two businesses was never an easy option. But, at least David Cameron cared. Or at least that's what he said.

Eight months after the Conservative's conference, came the Budget. A budget that promised to help working people. Yet, for me and millions of other low income working parents, instead of helping us, we are going to be struggling financially.

You may be asking why we would struggle when there has been an increase in the minimum wage (rebranded as the National Living Wage) and rise in the personal allowance of income tax. Surely these increases are good news? Yes, they are. But the welfare cuts mean that thousands of working families will be worse despite the increases in the minimum wage and personal tax allowances.

Tax credits were the biggest target of the budget. These are paid to low income families to help them pay for childcare and keep their children out of poverty. Yet, despite being needed by some of the most vulnerable families, these were cut in the budget in three ways.

Firstly, the Conservatives have increased the taper rate at which tax credits are reduced (from 41% to 48%) while the income threshold has increased. This increase means that families will keep less of every extra pound they earn - hardly an incentive to get parents to work more because only a fraction of the increase in earnings goes to the working parent.

Secondly, they have completely cut the family element of the child tax credit and Universal Credit for new claimants, which is a cut of £545 to most families.

Thirdly, the child elements in tax credits and Universal Credit (worth up to £2750 for each child) will only be provided for two children for new claimants.

The first tax credit change will come into force in April 2016 and effectively means a loss of £1500 a year for many families (including mine). Already many parents are wondering what they will have to cut back on to balance the £30 a week reduction. When you are a low income family, £30 a week is a substantial amount to cut.

I am even more concerned with the cuts to the family element and child element in April 2017. While the Conservatives have stated that these cuts are only for new claimants, 2017 is the year in which the majority of current tax credit claimants will be moved onto Universal Credit. When they do this their old tax credit claim will be closed and they will become a new claimant for Universal Credit. Notice what this means for families with more than two children? They will lose thousands of pounds. Personally, I will need to find an extra £6045 on top of the £1500 that I will lose in 2016. I am already working every hour that my children are at school and nursery so I am not sure what more I can do. And I won't be the only one wondering how I will feed my children in 2017.

For a party who claimed to want to get Britain working and support those who are struggling, their actions say the very opposite. Instead of feeling encouraged to work hard and appreciated by society, I feel that no matter how hard I work, while my children are young, I will always be struggling to provide for them.

Will these welfare cuts increase child poverty though? Not at all. Because the term 'child poverty' has been conveniently redefined so that it doesn't take account of household income. I feel the increasing queues at the food banks may give a more accurate representation.

The reality is that the welfare cuts have targeted the lowest paid working families, whilst those who aren't working keep their benefits and the highest paid will have an increase in their income.

I agree that reducing the deficit is vital. But is it vital that children from low income families will have to pay the cost?

Janette blogs at Life With Six Kids

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