Sunday, 24 June 2012

Is anybody listening?

I was recently introduced to this article where David Cameron states he plans to cut Housing Benefit for all under-25's, forcing them to move back in with their parents.

What is wrong with this man!?

Yes, I am fully aware that a lot of people severely abuse the system. A lot of people claim Housing Benefit because they can't be bothered to get up off their behinds and find a full time job to pay for their rent. It does beg the question... why did you move out of your parents in the first place? 

For people like this, then yes I do believe that benefits should be axed. Job Seekers should be given a certain length of time or a certain amount of interviews in which to find a job, and if not should be taken off of the system. I know it can be difficult to find a job these days, there's not much out there. However, if you claim Job Seekers you're probably entitled to help with the funding of a college course. There is no stopping these people getting a job, only themselves and the comfort of other peoples tax money.

This might sound rich coming from me, a 22 year old Mum who doesn't work. But my situation is completely different, and here's why.

Ross and I saved long and hard to afford our first house. We were both working, both paying tax and when we eventually saved enough money for a deposit and moved in, we paid full rent, council tax and bills with no extra help. What we didn't know when we moved however, was that I was already pregnant with Princess. I continued to work up until my 38th week of pregnancy when my midwife signed me off and Ross has continued to work since then pulling in all the hours he has been offered. I would say we're lucky enough that Ross earns enough for me to be a stay at home Mum, but I wouldn't call us lucky.

We didn't claim Housing Benefit until my midwife told me we were entitled to it once Princess had arrived. It wasn't a lot, but it certainly helped. When my 9months were up, we decided that I would take the extra 3 months unpaid to see if we could manage without my wages. Unfortunately, those 3 months aren't much help at all. You have last months pay to help you live the first month, and by the time the second month comes around, you have to tell work if you're coming back or not, so there really isn't enough time to comprehend anything.

During my 3 months off however, I was researching nurseries and childminders. Put Ross's wages together with mine, minus the Housing Benefit because I would be back at full time work, add childcare on top of that, and my wages wouldn't even cover it. Our reasoning to this was; why should I go back to work, to pay someone else to raise our child? In all fairness I wasn't ready, I'm still not. But I refused to be away from my daugher for 8 hours a day simply to pay someone else to do what I should be doing.

My message in this post is quite clear. If David Cameron were to first tackle the costs of childcare towards families like mine, who don't earn enough to make it beneficial to work, then Housing Benefit wouldn't even be an issue. I am aware that we are entitled to help from the Government towards nursery funding, but there is a huge flaw in this. The more you work, the less help you get. Once Princess turns 3, I could put her in full time nursery and have about 75% of it paid for me and not have to work. Yet I work, and I have to pay the full price myself. How does this make sense?

I could be going out on a limb here, but this is a theory of mine. If money from the Government were to be put into nursery schemes which helped families put their children into nurseries, more Mums would work. The money they would save from paying these Mums Housing Benefit, could then be put into the nursery funding. Yes, he would be taking the money from one place and putting it into another therefore not saving money, but the economical rise would be significant from all of these Mums returning to work. 

Not working is not a choice for me. I don't work because I can't afford to, and that is ridiculous. I know he wants to encourage families to work, to help those who really deserve it, but at the end of the day, this all boils down to childcare.

Another point I recently thought about was if people like myself were forced to move back home because we weren't entitled to a bit of help from Housing Benefit, it would result in a council house crisis. My Mum lives in a 2 bedroom house with my sister, each of them occupying a room. This means, Ross, myself and Princess would have to live and sleep in the living room. I still wouldn't be able to afford childcare to return to work. The house would be classed as 'overcrowded' and we would end up being moved into a hostel in the hopes of receiving a council house. Hostel numbers would rise dramatically because not everyone has a family they can fall back on. The money taken from Housing Benefit would then have to be used to fund all of these families now having to live in a hostel. Who still can't afford childcare.

Does this make sense to anyone?

In a sense I can understand where he's coming from. Right now the Government doesn't make it beneficial to Mums to work. We simply can't afford it. However, those people who move out into a house just to claim Housing Benefit, then yes, stop it. Stop Housing Benefit for people who don't have children by all means, and that's just not me on my high horse. If they don't have children then there has to be a significant reason to why they are not working and paying their own rent. There are special cases I understand such as disability, domestic violence and so on, but what about the rest of them? 

Right now I am 22 years of age. If Housing Benefit for under-25's stops then fair enough, we will be screwed and I have no idea what we would do. But in 2 and a half years time... we could just do it all again? It's not going to stop people claiming Housing Benefit just because they are 25. Age has absolutely nothing to do with it. Okay in some cases maybe, the number of underage and young Mums who are living in 3 bedroom council houses paying no rent and council tax has considerably risen. However, if these women could afford childcare, they would be forced into work. Problem solved. If they refused to work, take their benefits away. 

It's as simple as that.


Jade said...

Misty, I could have written this post word for word and I totally agree with everything you say. I've just started my maternity leave, husband is self employed and we've both worked all the way from 16 years old - through university (for which neither of us had any financial help from anyone) and scrimped and saved for a wedding and a house. Now that our baby is almost due we'll get nothing. Because our house is mortgaged we can't get any assistance with council tax or rent and what's more of a kick in the teeth is that because my husband is self-employed, we can't get most of the benefits mums can get.

When my maternity leave is up, I don't think I could afford to go back to work for the same reasons you can't, but at the same time we'll get no help financially from anyone. So we're going to have to rely solely on hubbys wages to cover living costs for three people.

I totally empathise and agree with everything you've said. You're not alone in your situation and most importantly, you're not alone in your views that this system is totally unfair.

Where the heck is the justice?

Misty Bird said...

Thanks so much for your comment Jade.

I think that's half the problem, there is no justice! David Cameron is taking a small majority of people and painting them with the same brush, meaning we all suffer without reason.

Those who have worked their entire lives and paid tax & NI are usually last on the list to receive help, it's disgusting.

I understand how you feel about maternity pay too. There shouldn't be so much anguish abou returning to work or not but for so many they can't afford it and that's the biggest problem we face.

Hopefully this won't go ahead and it's just another radical idea!

Lena said...

I think in reality, david cameron knows nothing about the real world. His first job he was paid 90k a year. My first job at 16 I was paid £29.50 per week. It was a youth training scheme because I refused to go on the dole. It. Was my choice. But what cameron and his band of merry men need is a dose of reality and until that happens working class people like ourselves will pay the price for their stupid decisions. X

repressedsoul said...

Seriously I've just written a rant about this for the Huffington post. WHAT BOLLOCKS to put it bluntly. I'm really trying my best to get off benefits at the moment and going back to do a post graduate certificate in September, I've only ever been out of work this once and what a big mahoosive black hole of ennui it is! I swear if I was David Camerons mum I'd whup him into shape, he has no grip on "reality" whatsoever. Unfortunately I don't think any of these politicians have. What a middle/upper class upbringing qualifies you entirely for sorting out the problems of the working class when there are no jobs out there to work for I don't know! Sorry, ranting!

Suzanne said...

The rules that the Government put in place often seem ridiculous and never ever suit all people that they seem to bunch into one category - all over 25s should go back to living with their parents - what nonsense! I know that you have now gone back to work, I do hope that you didn't feel forced into it.
Thanks for linking up to #oldiesbutgoodies