Thursday, 17 September 2015

Cutting Tax Credits - What it Means to me

Dear Mr Cameron,

You and your party have been brilliant at supporting me and my children over the past few years. As a single parent, I have drawn on the wonderful NHS many times (brain injury, cut to the face, lump in breast, plus numerous trips to the dentist and trolley-loads of contraceptive pills) - thanks for that. We’ve been regular visitors to the library, to try to satisfy my younger son’s reading habit. As a single parent, I get a 25% reduction off my council tax. My children’s schooling is rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted (but actually, I think it’s outstanding). And that’s all brilliant.

But by far the greatest help that I have received from the Government since being a single parent are Tax Credits. And you have just cut them. So now I’ll be about £1000 worse off every year.

I heard you on the radio today, saying that you have cut them because you want to encourage people into work. I don’t understand. I work. I work bloody hard at my job. And then I come home, and work bloody hard at being a mum.

I’m have pretty average responsibilities at work, and am on a pretty average wage. I work school hours. And all of this is by choice. Yes, I am one of your simpering scroungers who chooses not to earn more money. I choose to work locally, and I choose to be home very soon after my boys come home from school. I choose not to have a job which will call me away.

Why?

It’s to do with family values, Mr Cameron. I think the Tories were belting on about them not so long ago. In fact, in 2009, you said that they were the key to building a responsible society.

As a teenager, I had absent parents. I remember letting myself into my house with my key, and making Findus Crispy Pancakes with oven chips. You probably don’t know what Crispy Pancakes are; all you need to know is - they’re not crispy, and they’re not pancakes.

My Mum arrived home at 6pm, well after The Wombles had finished. And my Dad - well, sometimes I was in bed when he got back from work.  Parental absence like this is not good for a child. Did you know that, statistically, a teenage pregnancy is most likely to happen in that hour, or hour and a half, between the children getting home from school, and the parent coming in from work?

There are all sorts of reasons why I want to be there for my children. As teenagers, they need me just as much as they did when they were little. They are going through so many changes, and I want to be there to support them. And the Government should support me in this. Because it is in your interest for me to raise two bright, motivated, happy and healthy men.

Why then, are you cutting my Child Tax Credits, and forcing me to work longer hours? Why are you insisting that I become an absent parent? A parent already stressed and guilt-ridden about working too much, forgetting appointments and arriving late? Surely you can see that, by closing down your support, you are undermining all the hard work that I have put in over the past few years. By cutting tax credits, you are dismantling my family values, not supporting me in building them.

“The goal of welfare reform should be to reward hard work and protect the vulnerable.” So says your 2015 manifesto. Well I work bloody hard. And now I’m vulnerable.

You haven’t thought this through, Mr Cameron. And neither have your chums who voted ‘yes’ today.


17 comments:

  1. The same thing applies to me. I'm trying hard to hold a job down and look after my children, but the cut in tax credits will make things extremely difficult. I just want to be the best mum I can - and the Tories are trying to stop me. I'm finding the whole thing really stressful.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment. Good luck!

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  2. Very well written. We're in the same boat, tax credits were a godsend for us. I hate the thought that I'm going to have to find a full time job rather than being self employed and working from home.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Michelle. Good luck - I hope things pan out for you.

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  3. Its such a rubbish situation - it does make you wonder if anyone in the government has any clue at all about what its like to be living down here in the real world. I'm going to share this on the 'social media' - more people need to get the message across that this is not about 'shirking', it's about what's best for society in the long term - happy, well-adjusted children who grow up into happy, well adjusted adults. Well written Lottie.

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    1. Thanks Sam. And thanks for your support, as always!

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  4. Came here from mumsnet, honestly issue 1) if your boys are teenages, the last thing they want after school is you supporting them through "changes" they want porn and playing with themselves.
    2) if you supported family values you would have put that before leaving the father or him leaving you, that was a life choice you made when "mating" with another human. your life choices should not impact others. i suspect if you claim to have already used all these services you have pulled way more from the system than you have submitted in tax's so you should just stfu and work harder to repay the nation that has kept you and your children safe and educated. In other countrys they have much less and infact wake up ready to die, so worrying about feeding them cheaper food or being absent is truely retarded.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Do you have teenage boys? I'm sure you're right - they are interested in porn and playing with themselves (probably - although I haven't interrogated them on the subject) but, believe it or not, they do have other interests, and issues, in their lives. Do you really think that 12 year olds don't need their parents?

      Unfortunately, you do not hold all the facts in your fingers. I worked full time for ten years before having kids, and then went full time after having children for some years. So I have paid a substantial amount into the Government pot already, and plan to do so again when my children are older. You are absolutely right that we are very lucky to have a welfare state in this country that supports us in so many ways. But I think you misunderstood the point, which was about the hypocrisy of a decision by the Government to reform the welfare state in a way which negatively affects family life.

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    2. hi "unknown", what a surprise you are "unknown" - people with view like yours are always anonymous. Most level headed people respect other peoples opinion, but using terms like 'stfu' and calling people 'retarded' simply negates any points you may have been trying to make.
      I know Lottie in "real life" and I've never met anyone who works so hard to give her children a rounded and balanced upbringing - you have no right to question this aspect of her post.
      Also, and this is a low blow for which I make no apology...... try spell check before you send your next diatribe - it makes it a bit more credible.

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  5. My sister in law and brother in law both work full time and their children take full advantage of the after school activities on offer at school. They have family time in the evening and at weekends. My sis in law then continues working (she's a teacher) after they have gone to bed. Their children are happy, balanced and healthy and enjoy the amazing range of after school activities on offer at their ofsted rated good school. And they still get lots of.family time. All without tax credits.
    Another friend is a single mum whose daughter goes to nursery full time. Again they have lots of time together between 5 and her bedtime when she catches up on any work. Again no tax credits, both happy and well rounded.
    £1000 a year is not a huge amount of money especially when people are being made redundant and having salaries cut. My own salary is being cut by £5000 but fall above threshold to get any support - I dont feel I am entitled to any additional support though. I will still have to work full time as will my husband and find £1000 a month for our 1 child as we can't afford to have more or for me to work part time. I want more children but if we can't afford it, we can't have more - why should the government pay for me to have more children or supplement my income so I can go part time.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I absolutely take your point.

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  6. I am curious as to how many hours you would actually need to work to make up the missing £83.30 a month, though. Even on NMW, I think it's about 13 so, given that your children are of school age, how can working an extra 3 hours a week or so have such a devastating effect on your family life?
    Sounds like you are foot stamping a bit. Tax credits were not created so that you could work fewer hours, you know. They were intended to enable families to be employed - there's a difference.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I certainly am being foot stampy - you're right. And as someone who's signifcantly contributed to the Government pot, I think I am entitled to be so. £1000 per year is a significant proportion of my income, and to say that I can easily work another three hours a week is basically what Cameron is saying, by pushing responsibility onto employers to step up to the mark, and either offer us extra hours or pay us a better wage. But do you think they will do that? I don't.

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    2. I get that you feel entitled....
      I just don't get why - these are your life choices and working tax credits have doubtless been a marvellous thing whilst there's been the cash to provide them but there just isn't now. wouldnt you rather have the NHS/education/libraries?

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    3. I absolutely agree that we need to shake up the welfare system to create more cash in the bucket. Of course we do. But doing it this way seems to go against the Gov's claim that they are great supporters of family values. It's just a tiny part of the Government's austerity cuts - and yes, of course it's much less severe than the bedroom tax, or the defective 'fit for work' schemes. Personally, I'd rather get the cash for the NHS/education/libraries by increasing the higher bracket tax rate - as a start.

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  7. Great post Lottie. Tax credits were an absolute lifeline to us when the Husband was made redundant while I was on maternity leave from a fixed term post, i.e. no job to return to. It's scary to see them being pulled back, and as you so rightly say, it does make a mockery of 'rewarding hard work and protecting the vulnerable'. x

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    1. Thank you! It's really interesting to see how this issue polarises opinion. There's no doubt that tax credits have allowed me to go back to work and be there for my kids - and I'm very grateful! The cuts feel like the Tories are pulling the rug from under my feet. And millions of others, too.

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