The cost of going back to work….

George Osbourne’s recent comments over the possibility of denying the same offer made to dual income families of a tax rebate of up to £1200 (to go toward child care) for families earning up to £300k , have angered many, including me. According to Mr Osborne stay at home mothers (he didn’t say ‘parents’; he’s having another pop at mothers) have made a ‘lifestyle choice‘ and are therefore undeserving of any help. Instead what we get is derision and vitriol, from people who haven’t the first idea of what we do.  I entirely fail to see how choosing to go back to work is any less of a ‘lifestyle-choice’ than choosing to stay at home to raise our own children, but that’s another post.  Okay, staying at home does not earn a wage, and therefore it is not taxable, but there are other ways to contribute to society than being a tax-paying wage earner.

On the whole, single income families actually pay more tax as a percentage of their household incomes than dual earner families.  We also claim less in tax credits depending on that income.  The threshold for help is at around £16-26k per year, in which you qualify for a plethora of tax credits and benefits such as housing benefit, council tax benefit, and Working Tax Credit (which has become a tax-funded subsidy for employers who will not pay a working wage). I do not begrudge the needy at all. They have the right to a family life every bit as much as the rest of us.  The ‘don’t have kids you can’t afford’ brigade ought to realise that this attitude makes having children a luxury reserved for the very wealthy.  The anti-parents-getting-any-help-at-all crowd fail to realise that it is the children of THIS generation who will be funding their pensions and providing the ‘antis’ with care in their dotage, through both time, skills and taxes. Is it so dreadful an idea, that we consider that parents do an important role in raising the next generation, which is deserving of recognition, rather than public derision and scorn?

“when it comes to tax credits and ‘benefits’, my husband’s income is counted as mine — as a “family income”. Yet when it comes to tax time, our family income can only have one personal allowance applied to it (so rather than “ours” it is now only “his”).

I do not want a subsidy, but nor do I want to subsidise other peoples lifestyle choices.

The government should provide a level playing field and allow families to make their own choices without financial coercion.”

Défendenosinproelio • 20 days ago

It is not easy to be financially and emotionally dependant (especially if you are temperamentally unsuited to a dependant role) on one person, nor is it easy for the person who has a family reliant upon a single income (which in real terms has decreased significantly under the coalition). If you are that primary carer,  life is not about sitting in front of the telly with your feet up (as many who have no clue as to what full-time parenting would appear to assume), it involves engaging with those children, all day, everyday, with no ‘break-time’, no time off, and no ‘sick pay’.  If you are lucky enough to have extended family nearby, you might get a break, but generally, the care is up to you.  This is not, by any means, the easy ‘lifestyle choice’ that Osborne and the Tories would like people to think it is, in order to give a hint of credence to their socially regressive and punitive policies. I wonder if they actually have the stamina and testicular fortitude to live it themselves, rather than condemn a ‘life-style choice’ they clearly don’t have a clue about.

Personal situation (I really am getting to the point now)

Last week I was approached on LinkedIn for an admin role in the city paying between £10 and £15 per hour (£400-£600 per wk./£20800-31200 per annum). ‘Not bad‘ I thought and ‘the role looks like it is right up my street‘. However, upon looking into childcare (for 3 children under 5) and transport costs into London, working a full time job in London, which is the only place I stand to earn even close to what I would need to cover my costs.

Childcare (average UK prices)

It costs, on average, £177 per week per child for a full time nursery place. (£9204 per year). I would most likely need to consider this as the best option for our youngest who is only 8 months old. Our 2 year old will be doing 1 playschool session per week from September. As it is, £7.50 per 3hr session until he is funded at 3 will still be £390 for that year, assuming that I do not increase his sessions in that time.  I would also need to employ a childminder for him It would cost £3.84 per hour for at leas 50 hours per week coming to £194 per week. Our eldest, who will be starting full time education next week (I can’t believe where the time has gone!) would still need 30 hours per week for before and after school until I, or their father, returned home. That 30 hours would add another £115.2 to the price.  In total I would need to be earning, to be safe, £500 per week (after tax) just to cover childcare: £26k per year.

Child (by age)  Week Weeks  Hourly rate Hours per week
3  £  177.00  x 52  =  £          9,204.00
1  £  115.20  x 52  =  £          5,990.40  £             3.84 30
2  £  192.00  x 52  =  £          9,984.00  £             3.84 50
 £  484.20  £             7.68 80
Total per year [approx.]  £       25,178.40
Transport (Zones 1-6)
Weekly  £     55.60  x 52  =  £          2,891.20
Monthly  £  213.60  x 12  =  £          2,563.20
 Before Tax  Minus childcare Minus transport Total per week after expenses
Maximum salary for Viewsy Vacancy  £       31,200.00  £    6,021.60  £  3,458.40 / 12 =  £  288.20 / 52 =  £                         5.54
Minimum salary for Viewsy Vacancy  £       20,800.00 -£4,378.40 -£6,941.60 / 12 = -£ 578.47 / 52 = -£                      11.12

Financial costs aside, there is the very real emotional cost that that I would incur through pursuit of my own career while my children are so young.  It would mean splitting my children up every day, so rather than building a relationship with each other and me who loves them to distraction, I would be working a full time job just to pay (at least two) other people to bring up my children who would not necessarily have that bond with them. It’s their job after all, so how could I expect them to love my children?

By going to work, I would not be sacrificing for my children because it would not be my sacrifice to them.  It would be their sacrifice to the state (in tax) and to me so I could pursue a career in their earliest years.  They would be going without me for very little return (don’t get me wrong, that is not a bad salary for an admin role and I was sorely tempted). The figures speak for themselves and I wonder if Osborne really has sat down and worked out the numbers. The emotional cost to me (I would miss my little monkies), and what it would cost our family in quality-time, far outstrips the financial burden we are under currently.  As it stands, we simply cannot afford for me to go back to work at the moment. Whether emotionally or financially, the cost is just too high and if that is the case for us, I am sure we are not alone.

See also

Hold the Fort, for We are Coming!

The recent Tory cuts will cost 500,000 people their jobs in the next four years. They have chosen to strike ordinary people, and those in hardship rather than close the ‘legal’ tax loopholes that only the rich can afford to pay accountants to ‘find’ and avoid paying their fair share.  George Osborne is just one such hypocrite.

This is not the only onslaught we face, Comrades.  It is not only the very real danger of a second recession before we recover from the first.  It is bad enough we face a government who would hold people to ransom over needed assistance be it for food or for housing (What’s next Osborne?  Extra fees for using the fire service, police, schools or ambulance service?), and a very real danger of our public services being dismantled or privatised, but since the Pope’s invasion of this country last month, which he used to undermine secular democracy, others  have taken this as licence for a media attack on our morals and have picked up the cue to communion whine (excuse the pun, couldn’t help it) about, being marginalised.

Enough is enough.  I am not going to sit quietly and take it anymore.  It is to this joint cause which I think this rousing little union march applies nicely.

We meet today  in freedoms cause
And raise our voices high.
We’ll join our hands in union strong
To battle or to die.

Hold the fort
For we are coming,
Union men be strong.
Side by side keep pressing onward,
Victory will come.

Look my comrades
See the union banner waving high.
Reinforcements now appearing
Victory is nigh.

Hold the fort
For we are coming,
Union men be strong.
Side by side keep pressing onward,
Victory will come.

See our numbers still increasing
Hear the bugles blow.
By our union we shall triumph
Over every foe.

Hold the fort
For we are coming,
Union men be strong.
Side by side keep pressing onward,
Victory will come.


Alternate Chorus.

Hold the fort for we are coming,
Union men be strong!
Side by side we’ll battle onward,
Victory will come!

Child Benefit takes a slicing.

Okay, Stan, What’s the Plan?

The Prime Minister is amid rising anger at the Coalition’s plan to cut child benefit.  Why am I not surprised?  Because they told us they would be cutting these benefits.  People who wanted benefits cut for those they deemed ‘scroungers’ voted for the Tories without a thought that depriving a few ‘lay-abouts’ would result in a substantial loss of income for those who were not.  People who fancied a ‘change’ because they were ‘bored’ with the Labour government (as if it were a simple redecoration of a room) voted for the Tories.  The Conservative Party laid their plans down very clearly in their manifesto and voters were warned well in advance during the General Election campaigns by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats that these credits would be cut so I’m afraid very little sympathy is due to those who ARE shocked.  In summary if people did not vote at all (Not voting was their choice but they were given ample opportunity to take part in the electoral process.), or voted for either the Conservative Party or Liberal democrats then they have exactly what they asked for and they have no business to complain about their chosen party’s plans. Voters were also warned that a vote for the Liberal Democrats was a waste and would end up going to the Tories in a coalition.   They may well express their regret but their collective choices are something the rest of us must live with for the next four and a half years.

The plan is to cut child benefit to individuals who earn £44,000 or more a year.  The cut will mean that families with a joint income can earn up to £87,999 and keep their benefits while those with a single income will lose all of their benefits if that income exceeds £44,000.  What has sparked controversy is not the cut itself but the fact is that this will favour families where both adults work and their joint income exceeds the threshold, over single income families where one parent also provides the childcare.  What Cameron and Osborne fail to realise is that by setting the threshold at that level and only accounting for individual incomes (how many households function with ‘individual’ incomes?), will equally and unfairly penalise parents who both work and be an even greater attack on the finances of middle-income families.  It is true that cuts need to be made but to insist on the this income threshold would be an attempt at legislating a needless social change by artificially engineering both quantity and quality of the choices available to parents. Unless this is what the angered ‘think-tank’ (I hate that term) members want?

One Tom Loughton suggested that thresholds may need revision to correct inconsistencies.  Mr Cameron has stated that the a joint threshold would add a complication of a means testing system and thus cause an unnecessary level of bureaucracy which would be highly unpopular.  It doesn’t matter that this initial move is against single income families.

“Under this change, child benefit will go on being paid to the 85% of people who don’t pay top-rate tax, and I think that is fair and right.” – David Cameron

I fail to see how.  He has also given Mr Osborne his full backing on his plan to pick apart the welfare system.  These plans go as far as placing a £26000 cap on the total benefits received by households without an adult in employment.

“We have to ask the question ‘Is it right to pay child benefit to top-rate taxpayers when we have such big debts and such a big deficit and when we obviously want to protect the poorest families?’ – Speaking on ITV1’s Daybreak, Mr Cameron

However, Mr Osborne (The Chancellor of the Exchequer for the benefit of my international readers.), has risked a backlash by announcing that child benefit entitlement will be removed from those households with an income of £44,000 from 2013.  This looks like a plan to enact social changes eventually.  Changes that will cost middle-income families between £1055 – £ 2500 or over per year.  It is fair enough that the individual pay threshold is in-line with the threshold for the higher rate of tax, but it is wrong to cut it off entirely and it is equally wrong to penalise only the families on a single income which either meets or exceeds the individual threshold.  Yvette Cooper, the Shadow work and Pensions Secretary has also stated that the decision to remove this assistance is unfair.

Further weight is lent to my suspicion that detrimental social changes are being enacted by this drive to only eventually end benefit entitlement families who live on £44,000 or more a year, is the fact that they plan to then sweeten the blow to stay-at-home mothers with a transferable tax-credit.  So it goes a bit like this, “If your household income is more than £44k then we’ll remove your child benefits.  But if your little woman graciously realises her place -stays at home to raise the children and wash and cook and clean for you and the kids like a good girl – then we’ll pat her on the head and give her a bit of pocket-money.” Pardon me for sounding cynical but I can’t be the only one who finds the whole idea insultingly patronising.  In 1999 when the Labour Party brought in a national minimum wage they were castigated by the traditional Conservatives for ‘social-engineering’.  Well it’s the same thing here folks and they are trying to take us backwards to the 1950s while getting us to pay for the ‘privilege’.

What About Students?

Surprise surprise, the ‘graduate tax’ isn’t turning out to be quite such a hot idea either.   I shouldn’t really gloat on this because I thought that it was a fairly good idea to get around exorbitant tuition fees and horrifying levels of student debt.  We can’t all be right all the time.  After having another think on it, it seems that this graduate tax will ONLY apply to new students.  This will mean leaving those leaving university to find a distinct shortage of graduate jobs will still have to repay their original loans and fees out of their ordinary incomes.  This will still mean putting off being properly independent for another five to ten years while they work to repay their debts in average paying jobs which either don’t specifically require a degree or even have anything in common with their years of study.   Somehow I am extremely relieved that I DIDN’T go to university: I might still be broke but I do have something to show for it.

“A pure and simple graduate tax on its own has real problems – I think it would probably benefit universities in other parts of the world as our young people start to go to them.”

Shall we take a short trip to Tory Cop-out City?

Mr Cameron faced a grilling from Adam Boulton on Sky News about pensioners’ benefits such as winter fuel allowances, television licences and bus passes.  In hindsight, we can all see that Mr Cameron – born into ‘old-money’ – is trying to look after the ‘rich’ while attempting to appear magnanimous to we lesser mortals.

“I made some very clear promises to Britain’s pensioners during the election, I want to keep those promises but I cannot pre-empt everything in the Chancellor’s statement he will be making in the spending round.”

He has at least acknowledged that a household income of £44,000 a year is not “rich”.  He has refrained, however, from explaining how it is fair to put the cap on £44k individual incomes without applying a similar cap to joint incomes. Thus allowing joint income families on over £86,000 a year to retain their benefits while they are having so much trouble justifying why a single income family on less than £45,000 shouldn’t lose all of them.

Pressed on why the government had opted to cut child benefit instead of free bus passes and winter fuel allowances, which benefit rich pensioners as well as the less well off, Cameron denied that it was because he had personally vowed to keep the pensioner benefits in place during the election campaign.

“I think a good welfare system is a mixture of some things that are universal … but also making sure we have a welfare system that helps people out of dependency. What [work and pensions secretary] Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms are all about with the universal credit is making sure that it’s always better off for people to be in work. What you are asking me to do is say you either have a totally means tested or totally universal system and what I am saying is in a modern world an effective welfare system needs elements of both.” – To the Guardian.

I would very much like to understand

  1. Why Mr Cameron is being so evasive over his Chancellor’s planned cuts to which he has given his full support in advance for?
  2. What is the single ‘universal’ payment that Mr Duncan Smith plans to reveal to the conference today and exactly how WILL it simplify the system?