Page last updated at 23:14 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 00:14 UK

Squeeze panel: Ben Williams

Ben Williams with his partner
Age: 33
Job: Building contracts manager
Income: 30,000 - 35,000 per annum
Married with four children
Ben Williams is 33, and a building contracts manager from Port Talbot, Wales.

He is married with four children: Daniel 14, Keiran 12, Joshua 11 and Kian seven. This summer, he struggled to keep them busy without spending too much money.

He works in the housing industry, which is experiencing a slowdown.


This summer, I have taken the kids to Longleat Safari park, at a cost of around 150. We have an English Springer Spaniel puppy called Jessie, so I've been able to keep the kids busy, as even with the bad weather they've been more than happy to come for long, inexpensive walks through the beautiful Afan valley.

I've had a bit of a windfall this month, but without it I would have been struggling to pay my bills.

I've really been struggling this year, but I am now coming to terms with the financial reality of my situation, which is I need to destroy my credit card, as I'll end up paying for it forever. I pay 200 a month, but on a balance of 5,000 this will be extremely long term bill.

I appreciate I have been stupid to put myself in this position, but I have also been caught out by the shift in the economy and have suffered a reduction in my income in comparative and real terms.

Petrol remains ludicrously expensive, food is still not cheap, and as for luxuries, the name says it all. We can't afford them.

We are forced to buy school uniforms from the school, at hiked prices. If we buy from elsewhere, they will be sent home. As we now have three boys in upper school, it costs us 15 a week to get them there on the bus, and that's without snack money (another 15 a week or a pound a day each).

I would just like to send my thanks to CADW, who have opened all their sites in Wales to Welsh school children for free. That makes it viable for me to keep teaching the kids about their history, something which the schools don't do at all.

Click here to return to the families front page or read Ben Williams' previous reports.


Milk, 10 litres 7.20
6 Loaves of bread 2.22
4 pack of baked beans 1.99
Corn on the cob 1.99 for two
Cigarettes 40.00

I'm finding that I'm doing less mileage, as I now walk if possible, which has saved roughly 10 a week in fuel, but means I'm taking a lot longer to do the things that I used to take for granted. Mary and I don't eat out at all any more, we haven't visited a pub in two months. Our social lives are suffering a bit at the moment, which is fine, but so are the kids.

This summer's been a bit of a pain, as the weather means the kids don't want to go out, even their rugby training has been cancelled due to bad weather. So far, we've managed to go swimming and go carting, and for a walk at least once a day with our dog, Jessie. We are also planning a trip to Stonehenge next weekend, a nd to Windsor Safari Park before the end of August. We won't be going on holidays this year, as a holiday for 6 people can cost thousands, and "roughing it" is not an option as I have hurt my back. Normally I would go to Europe for a short break, but I haven't got the funds this year.

As a employee in the building sector, things are a little tight at the moment, our major supplier of work won't permit us a raise, and the price of everything is going up. I'm considering taking a second job to make ends meet.


In the past few months I am finding myself increasingly unable to balance my budget and do the things that a family should.

I take the kids regularly to places like the Eden project, various Castles, the Brecon Beacons-I'm trying to make them appreciate their heritage, and what can be done with a bit of willpower. This has become virtually impossible for the reasons listed below.

I am not a rich man. I earn less than 25k per annum for doing a demanding job. My partner doesn't work. Petrol prices in my area have gone up roughly 20p per litre in the past 3 months, and are still rising.

The interest rate on my mortgage has gone up, the basic price of food has gone up. Bread is now 10-20p a loaf more expensive, milk about 10-15p for 2 litres.

Cigarettes prices are a scandal, when I started smoking they were 99p for a pack. Now I can pay 6 a pack if I'm in a tourist area, and about 5.80 from Tesco.

All vegetables have gone up to the degree that my weekly shopping bill is now over 100.So I have no room in my budget for luxuries, like travelling to these places and continuing my children's education outside school hours.

The reality of the industry I work in is that there has been a slowdown in the housing market, and I will have no pay rise this year.

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