The Families

Family profiles

The Getting By families have not been selected because their situation is extreme, but rather because they are typical of many Liverpool families in low paid employment.  What characterises them all is the difficulties they face in getting by on incomes below the minimum level considered necessary to have an acceptable living standard in Britain today.

They work in schools, hospitals, hotels, shops and offices.  Some are on the national minimum pay level and others just above this. A few are in better paid employment but when family circumstances are taken account are struggling financially. In some households both parents are in paid employment, though usually the mother works part-time. For many of the families part-time employment is all that is available or is the only option given childcare responsibilities.

They come from across the different neighbourhoods in Liverpool. Most are white British, two are from the long standing Chinese community, one is a Liverpool born Black British family, another Somali, while one is from Poland. All have at least one child less than 18 years of age, with the two largest families having five children.

Nearly half are single parent families, though this does not tell the whole story as some of these have partners who for financial reasons they cannot live with. Several are in private rented property, others in social housing or own their own home and are paying a mortgage.

The families:

  1. Rose is a single parent with one young child and lives towards the south end of the City centre. Rose works part-time for a caterer and gets paid £6.19 an hour. She rents from a private landlord and finds it very difficult to get by. Rose took out a payday loan for £80 that she hasn’t been able to pay off and now owes £700.
  2. Michael and Ruth have four children the youngest just two years old. They live in the south of the City in social housing. Michael cannot find work and Ruth works part-time as an office worker and earns about £580 a month.
  3. Louise has two children and works fulltime as a teaching assistant on a temporary contract. They live towards the east of the City in privately rented property.
  4. Sue is the parent of two, one whom is now an adult and currently lives away from home, while the other is in their late teens and recently started an apprenticeship. Sue’s is studying to be a nurse and to has to do agency work to supplement her student bursary.
  5. Norma has three young children one of whom has health problems.  Norma recently got work with a voluntary organisation having worked as a volunteer for a number of years. Meeting childcare costs is a major issue for her as is paying rent of £600 a month to a private landlord.
  6. Samantha and Don have two children and live in the south end of the city in privately rented accommodation. Samantha worked as a cleaner but had to give it up due to ill health, while Don works part-time. They find it a struggle coping and Samantha has suffered depression and anxiety as a result.
  7. Hannah and Steve have four children, the youngest being a baby. Steve is a Civil Servant, while Hannah was made redundant from the shop she worked in at the start of the year. They find it hard to manage financially on Steve’s pay which is about £1000 a month after tax.
  8. Gill and Pete have two children; one is just a baby while the older child has health problems. Pete works in the service sector on a zero hour contract at £6.31 an hour. They rent from a private landlord and have a number of problems with the house including damp.
  9. Eileen is a single parent with three children, one of whom is an adult not living at home. She works fulltime by having two jobs that pay her about £7.75 an hour. She lives in the south of the City in a privately rented property, getting the deposit from a ‘legalised loan shark’, which three years later she is still trying to pay back
  10. Kate has four children one of whom is working and another in higher education, while the youngest is just four. Kate is a self-employed domestic cleaner working 16 hours a week and earning just £6.20 an hour. The mortgage on her home is £265 a month and has large amount of credit card debit that mostly she can only pay the monthly interest on.
  11. Phil and Dot have one child and live in social housing near the city centre. Ruth has two jobs as a care worker and a cleaner and Phil also works full-time as a cleaner. Both are on minimum wage and have a number of debts that they struggle to pay off. To avoid childcare costs they work hours that mean there is limited time for family life, while finances allow little chance of any socialising outside home.
  12. Rachel is a single parent with four children who lives in the south of the City. She has two jobs so works fulltime averaging about £8 an hour. One of the jobs ends shortly and Rachel is concerned about what will happen as she can hardly manage on her current income and has a number of debts including a payday loan.
  13. Karolina and Micha are Polish and came to Liverpool about seven years ago. They have one young child and recently moved into social housing near the city centre. Karolina works part-time in a shop and Micha full-time in a factory. He works as much overtime as he can as both he and Karolina are on minimum wage and find it harder and harder coping financially.
  14. Carla and Rob live in the north of the city with Carla’s three children and at weekends Rob’s child by a previous marriage. Rob works full-time in manufacturing, while Carla had a good job that she had to give up due to poor health.  Trying to manage financially is very difficult and sometimes Carla will go without medication and cannot afford a prepayment certificate.
  15. Pat lives in the south of the city with her young child in privately rented property. She works part-time as a receptionist. She does not get any financial support from her ex-partner and continually struggles financially often relying on help from family members.
  16. Lynn is a single parent with one teenager and another younger child. She works full-time and is trying to pay back debts that her ex-partner was responsible for incurring but which she has to pay.  Lynn relies on help from her parents but still finds it very difficult and has no money left at the end of the month.
  17. Sarah has two young children and lives to the east of the City in a shared house with her parents.  Sarah is self-employed and is trying to open a small shop. At the moment her only income comes from tax credits and child benefit.
  18. Bill and Jane have two young children. Bill is disabled and works full-time in the leisure industry. The family struggle to get by and Jane’s father helps sometimes, but they still have had to make use of pay-day loans.
  19. Brenda and Colin have two children with another on the way. While they have been in a relationship for many years they do not live together; Colin is struggling to find work and they can’t afford to do so. Brenda works part-time in the leisure industry and is on minimum pay and has a number of debts including a student loan from when she was at university.
  20. Mary is a single parent with three young children. Mary works part-time and is in social housing that she has lived in for more than four years. She has been affected by the bedroom tax and got into arrears with her rent as a result. Mary has other debts and is finding it very difficult financially.
  21. Dave and Helen live in the north of the City in social housing. They have three young children one of whom has a long-term health condition. Dave works fulltime and earns about £125 a week.
  22. John and June have four children and live in social housing the north of the City. John works as a chef on irregular hours and tries to work as many hours as he can as he is paid just above the national minimum level.
  23. Avril and Matt have two young children and Matt has a child by a previous partner who he makes maintenance payments for. He has worked for the same firm for many years but is regarded as self-employed and earns around the minimum wage. The family has extensive debts and are frequently helped out by family members.
  24. Dee has five children and doesn’t currently live with their father. They live in privately rented housing in the south of the city. Carol works 16 hours a week and even with working tax credit and child benefit has to rely on food bank sometimes to feed the family.
  25. Michelle is a single parent with one young child. Michelle has three jobs including as a cleaner and in a supermarket. She lives in a privately rented house and is finding it very difficult financially; she is in rent arrears and also has a payday loan from last year that she is still paying back.
  26. Beth is a single parent with one child. She works part-time as an admin worker and lives near the city centre in privately rented property. Beth often has to get financial help from her parents and is always overdrawn in her bank account. She continually finds it a struggle getting by and finds this stressful and upsetting.
  27. Luke and Minnie originally came from China, they have one young child and another on the way. Luke works full-time in social care, while Minnie works in a supermarket but will soon have to stop because of her pregnancy. They have a mortgage and at present just about manage, but the new baby will put a big strain on their finances.
  28. Carol and Ric have  two children in social housing a couple of miles from the City centre. Ric is a care worker earning about £7 an hour and works very long hours. Carol had to give up her job due to poor health and both the children also have chronic health problems. The family are in permanent debt and rely on family to help
  29. Yan and Wong have two children. Yan works fulltime in a Chinese restaurant and after tax earns about £200 a week. Wong works part-time in a supermarket and she is paid £6.31 an hour.
  30. Adam and Fawzia are Somali and have five children. Adam works in the catering industry and is on minimum pay. They find it difficult getting by on the money coming into the household.

NB: Not actual names