As two of Marie Buchan’s eight children are over 16, her parental benefits have been cut by more than £150 a week, forcing her into a “huge struggle” and leaving her with no choice but to turn to food banks for survival. Her job hunt, she explained, is proving a challenge too.
Ms Buchan, 39, told BirminghamLive: “Two of my daughters are over the age of 16 now so I have had my benefits, like child benefits and tax credit, cut.
“I am around £160 per week worse off now.
“It is a struggle and I use food banks just to survive. I basically live on food banks at the moment.
“They are a lifesaver for me and so so many other people.
“You have to do what you have to do to survive and I am so grateful that I can turn to them.”
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Anyone responsible for bringing up a child under 16 can claim Child Benefit, which is paid every four weeks with no limit on the number of children.
It is also eligible for parents of youngsters under 20 who continue to be in approved education.
Through Child Benefit, unemployed people can also contribute to their State Pension by putting National Insurance credits into it.
For anyone earning under £50,000 — and whose partner earns less too — Child Benefit is not expected to be paid back.
Ms Buchan, whose children are 20, 18, 16, 15, 13, 11, 10 and eight, lives in a housing association property.
Speaking of her difficulties in finding work, she said being a mother to eight kids is playing against her in recruitment processes.
She has been nicknamed “octomum”, and when interviewers find out, according to Ms Buchan they are drawn back by her situation
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She said: “Unfortunately I have been given the nickname octomum and that has stuck. It is definitely holding me back from getting a job.
“I have applied for a number of jobs. Employers seem keen at first but when they realise who I am, I am rejected.
“I fear I will never be able to shake the octomum tag off.”
She is currently training to become a mechanic.
Ms Buchan last month revealed she receives horrible abuse online, with some people telling her they hope she dies soon.
She said: “It can be hell at times. I don’t know what people get out of being so horrible but they must just get sick kicks.
“It is very hard at times to read that stuff and horrible for the children as well.
“People don’t understand the impact on someone who is in the limelight. I have contacted the police before due to the threats.”