Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Am I allowed to feel hard done to?- Child benefits

I don't expect this post to get any sympathy, I'm just confused.

So, benefits, eh?
How should they be applied?

We're likely to be in a situation where we'll see our child benefits reduce/ disappear. This BBC page gives some quick detail.

I'm annoyed because only one parent in our family earns a salary.
The OH is a SAHD. It's not necessarily by choice, I think a quick estimate of childcare costs is £28k... and if we were to cover those costs, after deductions, etc we agreed there would be little (if anything) between a take home salary and child care costs.

Now, I know we have to take some responsibility.

Some one mentioned recently whether it was fair that parents of multiples got discount off shoes whilst parents with two children close in age don't. To explain, parents who are members of TAMBA do get some discounts, including Clarks, but surely the difference is, parents who have children close in age usually plan this, or at least have the benefit of choice.
We chose to have our children close together- but we weren't planning (or remotely expecting) to find out that as well as planning for our siblings to have a two year age gap, that we'd also be expecting two on the same day. We didn't plan for twins.
We didn't have the full benefit of recycling our first child's things as we suddenly had a plus one, and had near enough the same expenditure all over again.

So, yes, we chose to have a two year age gap.

We then found with three children a lot more things were necessary, 'up-sizing' for a safe car to hold three car seats, needing a support network- more costs than we could have predicted.
Not an unusual situation but at a time we have the greatest expense as a family we are left balancing the books.

One thing I found most gobsmacking is that when it came to applying for a mortgage things were not to be as straightforward as I expected. It was not a case of simply multiplying my salary.

Responsible mortgage lenders now take the step of applying a calculation against the number of dependents you have, regardless of age. Interestingly, it transpired that my OH is also a dependent as he is a SAHD.
With four dependents I couldn't expect anywhere near a usual multiple of earnings.

Part of me is impressed by this, it is a correct thing to do, ultimately as outlined, children do need to be provided for.

What I am not impressed by is the child benefit equation.
I do not understand how a family with an overall salary of £90k might still be getting child benefit, whereas an overall salary of £50k would trigger the reduction of child benefit.
Government seem to have it sorted for tax credits taking in the whole family, and mortgage companies seem to have it sorted for how much they are willing to lend me.
So, why is child benefit being treated differently?
I know I'm not the only one who's noticed as this link shows.

And that's before I even start on a consideration for how many children you have... and how that family on £90k may only have one child....

I feel annoyed with myself for getting worked up over this. I know in my heart it is energy I am wasting. I know it can potentially open up so much disagreement.
When something is acknowledged as flawed, why is it being pushed through, surely someone has the energy to take the time to get it right?

It is the only benefit we receive, and the truth of it is, it 100% gets invested in the children (doing what it says on the tin) I'm just annoyed. We will have to find the money from somewhere- it's not being frittered.
Everything at the moment just seems to be putting more pressure on the family purse strings, it's not helping us out by any stretch of the imagination.

I can't help but think about the impact of reducing hours, taking demotion.. trying to find a way for both of us to work in jobs that might make us both happy... rather than relying so fully on one parent working... managing risk. This article talks about this a little better.

But that's not what it's about surely, this is about getting us all out of recession, I just wonder if this is going to help?


  1. We're in the same situation, and although I feel it's probably the right thing that we don't get the benefit (although it comes in very useful!), it does grate rather that families with a combined income of £90k still get it. It seems a little unfair to be penalised for being a SAHP - it's like they're trying to take the choice off us (although, like you, it wouldn't make financial sense to go back to work with the cost of childcare, so there isn't really a choice).

    As for the TAMBA discount - we do have to pay to be members...

  2. We won't be hit now the level's been increased luckily. But I do agree it should be based on household earnings. That's what tax credits does I understand, and as you stated all those other financial things do, so why not child benefit.


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