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'I earn £1,600 a month and two thirds goes on bills'

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Shoppers in Gravesend talk about their finances ahead of the Budget
Joe Makin, 23, earns £22,000 a year working in admin and says almost two-thirds of his take home pay is eaten up by rent and bills.
He says he feels "semi-comfortable but by no means completely secure" and would like to see more help for younger people in Wednesday's Budget.
The recent cut to National Insurance, where the main rate went down from 12% to 10% made very little difference to him, he says.
The BBC has heard from people with a range of earnings and household set-ups about their hopes that the Budget will include help on things like mortgages for first-time buyers, tax cuts and child benefit.
Mr Makin rents a one-bedroom house in Selby, North Yorkshire. "Each month I earn about £1,600 after tax. Maybe £1,000-£1,100 of that goes on rent and bills," he says.
"There were no subsidies like the Energy Bills Support Scheme this year, which made a noticeable difference for me and would've been worse for others.
"It's like the government sees it as last year's thing and they've done it once. But it would still be appreciated.
"I wouldn't say we are coming out of the cost-of-living crisis, I'd say I actually feel slightly worse off than last year but it feels like the news agenda has moved on.
"The National Insurance I pay went down ever so slightly recently but that seems to mainly benefit the rich. I'm about £20 a month better off, which is next to nothing."
Aga Szedzianis, in Newham, east London says she returned to work early from maternity leave because of the rising cost of living.
The 37-year-old lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small three-bed terraced house, which they would like to refurbish but cannot afford to do.
She and her husband, who are both associate architects earn just over £50,000 each. But she says, with price rises, the cost of childcare, and their mortgage soon set to go up by £500 a month, things are getting "quite uncomfortable".
"We had to stop paying pension contributions recently. We can afford only what's now and not the future.
"We're two professionals working in central London and we can't afford holidays anymore."
The two main things Ms Szedzianis would like to see in the Budget are income tax thresholds going up, and an increase in the tax-free childcare allowance.
Usually tax thresholds rise in line with inflation, but they have been frozen since 2021. So as your pay goes up, a bigger portion of your income is taxed.
"The biggest help to us would be raising the threshold for paying 40% tax. If it was raised from £50,000 to £60,000, it would [potentially] give us £2,000 a year each."
Rebecca Bostock earns £27,000 working as a case manager in the motor industry.
The 45-year-old who lives just outside Daventry, in Northampton, would love to buy her own home but says saving for a deposit is "absolutely not possible" while still also paying rent.
She would welcome any help for first-time buyers such as a 99% mortgage scheme, whereby buyers would only need a 1% deposit with the government backing the overall loan.
"A 1% deposit is more obtainable, as opposed to 5% or 10%," she says.
She would also like to see a fuel duty cut in the Budget as "the amount we pay at the pumps is ridiculous".
Fuel duty has been frozen since 2011, but a 5p increase has been pencilled in for later in March.
David Stuart, 36, from Whitburn in Scotland, is a data analyst who lives with his wife and two children, aged 10 and six.
When their first child was born, he was earning about £25,000 a year. By the time his second child was born, his salary had increased to more than £50,000.
This meant he had crossed the threshold for the High Income Child Benefit Charge.
If one parent earns more than £50,000, you have to start paying back some of your child benefit and if you earn £60,000, you don't receive any child benefit at all.
Mr Stuart now makes about £70,000 a year and his wife, who works as a childminder, earns around £10,000.
"The threshold hasn't moved in 10 years. 'High income' in 2013 was very different to 'high income' today," he says.
"Personally, I'm a high earner – but as a household, I wouldn't say we're high earners."
Two parents earning £50,000 each would still be able to claim full child benefit, despite their household earning more than Mr Stuart and his wife.
"I would like to see it based on household income, not an individual's income. It's not about being a high earner or not. It's about being fair."
Laura Coppard and her three children live in a one-bedroom bungalow provided by Lewes Council.
Ms Coppard receives £330 in Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) fortnightly, £207 in child benefit a month, and £53 a month in NHS Healthy Start vouchers, which some parents receive to buy healthy food and milk for their children.
"I'd love to just put food in my trolley without having to think about it but I can't," she says.
"My baby's milk costs £10.50, three would last a month so that's £30," she says, leaving £23 for nappies, wipes, fruit and veg for the other children.
The amount she receives recently fell when her daughter turned four. "When they turn four, they stop it. It should carry on for longer, for children up to maybe aged 10," she says.
She would also like to see the government offer more cost-of-living payments.
Additional reporting by Kris Bramwell & Victoria Park-Froud.
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