World Politics

‘I have £25 a week to pay the bills and buy food’: The reality of living in poverty in Wales

Lorraine Twinney was made redundant a year ago and now has to live off £25 a week.

She is one of many people across Wales who has to rely on food banks.

Lorraine, from Cardiff, has been applying for full-time jobs, but is struggling to make ends meet.

She says she is so “scared of the bills” that she now refuses to put the gas on and has switched her electricity tariff to the cheapest one available to help save money.

I have £25 a week and that’s to pay the bills and buy the food – so something’s got to give.

I turned the gas supply off, because I thought I’ll just have to wear a cardigan or something, so that bill is very low.

Electric, I’ve phoned them and I’ve asked to go on the cheapest tariff. I’ve done everything right to get myself down on the lowest grade of everything, so that’s cutbacks.

But I can assure you it’s not living, it’s existing. That’s how you feel, you’re just existing.


Lorraine Twinney
Lorraine says she has been struggling to make ends meet since losing her job.

Lorraine has recently been volunteering at her local breakfast club and food bank to give back to the community whilst she searches for a full-time job.

At first I was very depressed, it was bringing me low, but that’s why I joined the voluntary work…and I thought I need to get out because I’m getting depressed of this poverty level.


Figures from Oxfam show one in four people are now living in poverty in Wales – with 400,000 of those being working adults.

Statistics from the Welsh Government also shows people here have among the lowest average earnings – £535 a week – £50 less than the average for the UK.

1 in 6-people referred to food banks have a job

The First Minister Mark Drakeford says the current situation is “the reality of austerity and the impact that it has in people’s lives”.

He told ITV Wales: “Without the things that we have done as a Welsh Government [the situation] would be far, far worse. We have used right across the board, the budgets that we have, the powers that we have to protect the incomes of those who have been worst affected.

“Whether that has been creating jobs and unemployment in Wales is at a record low, it’s never been low, it’s lower than across the whole of the UK.”

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb says poverty in Wales will not be tackled ‘until there are more higher paying jobs’ in the country.

He told ITV News: “There is no shortcut [to tackling poverty]. The way you create that is better investment in transport, infrastructure, in skills, turning out young people from our schools and colleges that can do the higher value jobs of the future.”

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