Mother living on £4 a week could be forced to put beloved dog down due to costs

Julie Harper is struggling to afford the medication she needs   (SWNS)
Julie Harper is struggling to afford the medication she needs (SWNS)

A struggling mother fears she will be made homeless and may have to put down her dog after revealing she has just £4 each week to live on.

Julie Harper, 52, has been forced to get help from a local foodbank and use what little money she has on dog food to keep her beloved pets alive.

Her dire situation has led to vets offering to put her German shepherd down free of charge if she can not afford the medication he needs.

Ms Harper said: “The dogs is the hardest part of all of this. I will always feed them over myself but it's awful.

“When you look at them and they've only had a piece of toast a day it doesn't make you feel like a good person. The medication to keep one dog going is £58 a month, it's essential medication.”

“If I can't afford to pay for the dog’s medication the vets would pay for her to be put to sleep.”

Ms Harper said she has just £16 left from her Universal Credit once she pays for her home after losing her job at Marks and Spencer during the pandemic.

She is forced to scrape by living on pancakes and is now worried she will lose her home in Worcester.

The single mother-of-three spends just £4 a week at the supermarket, only buying milk, eggs, flour, bread and butter and going some days without food.

Ms Harper said she will always feed her dogs over herself (SWNS)
Ms Harper said she will always feed her dogs over herself (SWNS)

She added: “I've had to make a loaf of bread last so long. I've been living off pancakes as flour, eggs and milk are all cheap. I've had toast and so have the dogs.

“I'm trying to spread out the cost over the weeks. I've been buying full-fat milk to thin it down so it lasts double the time. You do what you have to do when you're in that position. I just have to drink water to make you feel full up.

“You're counting the bread to try and make things last. You have to go without food for a day to make it last. It's ridiculous.”

She says she has had to result to buying full fat milk to thin down so it lasts double the time (SWNS)
She says she has had to result to buying full fat milk to thin down so it lasts double the time (SWNS)

She has lived in her three-bedroomed house for the past 22 years but wants to downsize to a one-bed flat after her children moved out in September.

Ms Harper lost her job at Marks & Spencer at the start of the Covid pandemic and now relies on Universal Credit payments to survive, which used to give her £155 a month.

But her carer's allowance was taken away after her daughter left, meaning her monthly bills increased, including a £116.18 monthly bedroom tax.

It means once the money is deducted from her benefits and the contributions towards housing are taken, she is now left with £16 a month to live on.

After losing her carer's allowance and being hit with a bedroom tax, Ms Harper has hardly anything to live after her rent is paid (SWNS)
After losing her carer's allowance and being hit with a bedroom tax, Ms Harper has hardly anything to live after her rent is paid (SWNS)

“You don't even feel human,” she said. “I feel forgotten. I didn't get an explanation why and a breakdown from my housing provider, it just happened.”

"I think the council should let me downsize, I've been trying to downsize. I'm trying to but it's proving impossible."

"I last did a big food shop in September and my fridge is empty. I haven't had a full meal since October.

"It's one of the hardest things I've ever done. I've had no heating on, just blankets and hot water bottles. Just being in a cold house is awful.”

Platform Housing said that they are aware of Ms Harper's situation and have been supporting her "for some time".

Lisa Fairlie, director of housing operations at Platform Housing Group said: "We are aware of our customer's concerns and as such we have been supporting her for some time as well as signposting her to other agencies.

"We will continue to work with Ms Harper to find the right solution for her."