AN MP is spending the week on a food budget of under £18 – in protest at benefit cuts about to strike her constituents.

Helen Goodman, the Bishop Auckland MP, said the pitiful sum – just £2.53 a day – was the grim reality for people about to hit by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.

Now the Labour MP is exposing the strain of trying to survive on such a budget, which she said was already proving incredibly difficult.

Ms Goodman said: “My first thought, having been to two low-price supermarkets, is that I am never going to manage to do it. I fear I may run out of money.

“I will definitely not eat as I normally do and I definitely won’t have a healthy diet – five fruit and vegetables a day is out of the question.

“It means eating the same thing for days on ends. For example, I bought some bacon and chicken to make a stew - but I couldn’t afford any fish, which we are supposed to eat.

“I’ll be having porridge for breakfast, which I already do once or twice a week, but now I’ll have to have it very day – and I can’t sprinkle any syrup on top.

“I think it’s particularly difficult for single people, for those who might not have freezers and when it comes to a drink, or chocolate, well, that’s out of the question.”

The £18 sum was calculated after a woman on sickness benefit wrote to Ms Goodman to warn she would be affected by the ‘bedroom tax’, from April.

This measure will slash benefit where homes are ‘under-occupied’, by effectively charging social housing tenants for spare rooms.

It will cut housing benefit by 14 per cent for one extra bedroom - or 25 per cent where there are two spare rooms – costing some families £1,000 a year.

David Cameron has insisted the change is badly needed to control the ballooning housing benefit bill and free up larger homes for larger families.

But critics have pointed out that there are simply not enough smaller homes for many of the tenants expected to move, with the North-East the hardest-hit area.

Ms Goodman added: “Some will be forced to move, but many - like my constituent - will be unable to move for years, because of a shortage of housing stock.

“The number of people affected in my constituency is over 1,000 and there are less than 100 available smaller homes for them to move to.”

The woman who wrote to the Bishop Auckland MP is about to lose £9.24 a week of her £71.70 housing benefit.

Of the remaining £62.46, £16 is swallowed up by electricity and water bills, £19.50 goes on coal for heating, £5.25 on household essentials and bus fares are £4 – leaving only £17.71 for food.

Ms Goodman is posting daily videos about her experiences on YouTube, at

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