Family of six survives on pounds 137 a week

CHRIS LIPPETT is 12 and lives with his mother, father, two brothers and sister in a semi-detached council house in the Knowle area of Bristol.

The family survive on pounds 273 a fortnight made up of joint income support and disability benefit. His father gave up his job as a packer three and a half years ago after a back injury from playing cricket. His mother has never worked.

Chris said that although he knew education was important to get a good job he found school difficult.

"I should work harder but I have trouble with my spelling and words so it is hard for me," he said.

Chris wants to be a motor racing driver when he grows up, a career that does not require many formal qualifications. "It would be good money and I would get to drive fast cars and travel the world." From an early age he has been aware of the limited family resources and does not ask for expensive presents. For his birthday in December he asked for what he thought was a cheap replica gun.

"I didn't get it. It was pounds 25 which I thought was quite cheap," said Chris. "I was not too worried. I'll save up and get it myself," he said.

Chris does not get any pocket money and does not have a part-time job because he is too young.

His expectations for the future are not high. "I know I am not going to get a brilliant job when I am older but I would be happy just as long as I just had enough to eat, " he said.

His future aspirations are similar to those of 14-year-old James, who lives in Teesside with his mother Dawn, and younger brother Michael.

James believes that being a doctor or a lawyer is out of his reach. "They are jobs which posh people do. You have to go to university or college and I don't want to do that. I want to be an apprentice when I leave school at 16 and learn a trade that way." James wants to be an electrician or welder. He doesn't have a part-time job, or any pocket money, although his grandad gives him couple of pounds every fortnight.