2 articles Tag fees

Are You Getting Everything You’re Entitled To?

January can be a really tight month for us all – as well as recovering from the huge expenditure of Christmas, it’s a long month with five weeks until payday and also usually happens to be the month that quarterly bills get taken, so by the middle of the month we’re all feeling a bit stretched. As much as many people feel that claiming benefits carries a huge stigma, if you’re a British citizen, there may be things to which you’re entitled but aren’t yet receiving. Take a look below to see if there’s support you might be able to claim:

Employment Support Allowance

ESA is the replacement for the now defunct Incapacity Benefit. It is used by millions of people throughout the country, which is perhaps why you find it so hard to get through when you contact ESA. If you need to speak to someone regarding ESA, use the number provided by ContactNumber.net which can be found here: https://contactnumberuk.net/esa/

Housing Benefit

If you’re renting, you may be entitled to some housing benefit even if you work full time. They are also able to support homeowners on some occasions by helping with interest payments on your mortgage. Either way, if you’re struggling then it’s definitely worth applying to see if you’re entitled to anything towards your housing costs.

Carers Allowance

Are you a main carer for a family member, and if so does this affect your ability to have a job? If so then you may be entitled to an amount of carers allowance. The rules on what you can claim have recently changed, but speaking to someone to see if you’re eligible could really help if you’re in a sticky situation with no other help.

Council Tax Reduction

It was ruled a couple of years ago that Council Tax would no longer be fully discounted, so even the poorest families in the UK are expected to pay some towards their council tax. However, there are some exceptions in terms of reductions that you may be entitled to, for instance if you’re a student or the only adult in a household, Speaking to your local council may help you to work out if there are any discounts which which you may be entitled.

Study Costs

If you’re hoping to retrain or get back into education, there are lots of grants and bursaries available for student learners, especially within certain fields such as teaching. Speaking to the university or college you’d like to study at is probably a good place to start if you want to work out how much help you’d get towards study fees.

The Great Childcare Debate

childcareSomething which is on a lot of people’s minds at the moment is the issue of childcare, after the Government introduced free funding for 2 year olds from underprivileged families to receive 15 hours of nursery a week. The idea was to get parents back into work without having the expense of nursery hanging over them, but it’s a scheme which has been a bit of a sticking point for a lot of families. Until the age of three, working parents are expected to pay the full price for childcare and the prevailing attitude is that it seems unfair that familes who don’t appear to need free childcare are more entitled to it.

Let’s look at the brass tacks of it:

At the moment, Husband and I both work from home, which works for us and means we don’t need childcare. Now, let’s assume that I wanted to go back to work, full time, as a copywriter which is what I currently do from home. Let’s completely ignore Husband’s salary and assume that this is still going on things like rent and our bills, as it does at the moment.

The average salary for a copywriter is £23,047 per year before tax and National Insurance, so my take-home pay would be approximately £18,840, or £1570 per month. I’d probably have to travel to London to find this kind of work so I’d have to factor in £355.60 per month in season ticket fares. The nursery attached to Sausage’s school charges £4.50 per hour, plus £1.75 for a hot lunch, which would make my monthly nursery fees (assuming I’d need to drop her off at 7.30 am to get the train and not collect her again until 6.30pm) £1110.42. Of course, this also doesn’t factor in needing before and after school care for Sausage.

In travel fees and nursery fees alone, my monthly expenses JUST FOR GOING TO WORK would be £1466.02, leaving me approximately £103 which, as far as I’m concerned would make it absolutely POINTLESS going back to work.

I know that there are flexi options, sometimes family can help with childcare, or companies which allow a homeworking element during the week, but these figures are the exact reason that so many people are up in arms about the government’s scheme. Being a copywriter isn’t the loftiest career in the whole world but it sure as hell pays more than retail work or other minimum wage jobs, which means that even people with hopes of getting a mid-level job will struggle.

Obviously, this is all part of a MUCH bigger problem. The cost of living is too damn high in the UK, whilst wages are depressingly low. Family-friendly working is more-or-less non-existent and women are usually expected to bear the burden of this. I know that there’s a prevailing attitude that women SHOULD be the ones to bear the burden because they’re the ones who CHOOSE to have the babies (obviously the men have zero say in this and we’re all just sperm-harvesting lunatics…*sarcasm*) but this is a hugely outdated notion and many men also feel penalised because of their inability to contribute towards the childcare duties.

I don’t begrudge families who are on a low income the opportunity to have free childcare, I really don’t, but I also don’t think it’s a solution. It’s a really romantic notion, hoping to help people back into work, but let me ask you this: 1. how are they supposed to afford that childcare once the funding runs out and they’re on a low wage and 2. WHERE ARE ALL OF THESE JOBS THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE FILLING?!

I think we can all agree that the Government has well and truly got its head up its arse on this issue and that more help needs to be given to ALL parents who want to go back to work, not least of all because we’ve probably got a massive pool if untapped talent in this country, desperate to get back into the workplace but unable to afford it. It’s all very well for the hate-mongers in the right wing press to be content with demonising benefit claimants but the Government has basically created this viscous loop of never being able to AFFORD to come off of benefits, for so many people, who are essentially tied to living in permanent poverty.

I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you a Mum who’d love to go back to work but simply cannot afford to? Would you have a career if the childcare was cheaper or more affordable? Are you in receipt of two-year-old funding but still unable to find a job? Please leave me a comment below.