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Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman backs working single mum told she was better off on benefits
10:00am Friday 30th August 2013 in News
A WORKING single mum was visited by a top Labour politician after being told she was better off on benefits.
Chelsea Press, 23, from Basildon, received a visit from Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman yesterday to highlight the plight facing single mums up and down the country.
Mrs Harman said Chelsea’s case showed the Government was not supporting hardworking families, while also cutting benefits.
Chelsea, a part-time carer, pays half her income to the council in rent and council tax, with the rest going on bills, food and childcare for her two-year-old daughter, Lacey, meaning she is constantly living hand to mouth.
When she asked Basildon Council for advice on her housing benefit, it said she would be better off unemployed and on the dole. Chelsea said: “I was disgusted. It shouldn’t be telling you that.
“The job centre tells you to go and work and the council says you shouldn’t.
“The council should help more with housing benefit. Just because I work, it doesn’t mean I have a lot of money, yet I have to pay practically all of my rent a month.
“It’s a struggle. My mum has to take me toacheap supermarket once a month so I can stock up because I can’t afford to use the local shop.
“Lacey will eat first and if there isn’t enough left afterwards, I’ll just eat some noodles.”
Addressing the Tory leadership of Basildon Council, Chelsea added: “I would love Tony Ball to live like me, so he knows what it’s like.”
Harriet Harman said: “Chelsea is a real role model.
“She’s working because she wants to provide for her daughter and wants to set a good example, yet she’s running to stand still.
“It makes me really angry to think the Government is giving a tax cut to people earning more than £150,000,but it makes people like Chelsea struggle.
“The Prime Minister has no idea about people like Chelsea who actually wouldn’t be able to work without her mum and sister’s help.
“The Government ought to be right behind people like Chelsea, rather than being completely out of touch.”
BASILDON Council deputy leader, Phil Turner, sais he wouldl speak to council officers after hearing Chelsea’s comments about being told she would was better off on benefits.
Mr Turner said he “takes his hat off” to Chelsea, and anyone else who chooses to work and not live off benefits.
He added: “There is no discrimination between employment benefit and job seekers’ allowance.
“Our officers give very good advice, soIam surprised to hear what she says.Iwill go back to officers to make it absolutely clear to all teams we have to get the message across.”
He added: “Welfare reforms are here to stay.”
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