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The Work Debate

I’m still trying to decide whether to go back to work, and to make all the mini decisions that go with the larger one.

Last week I finally bit the bullet and made some calls to some government departments. After a morning listening to Vivaldi, I’m fairly sure that all benefits are paid from the phone charges. If they’re not, they should be. We’d all be rich.

If I go back to work:

monkey in office wearing phone headset
Artist’s impression of me at work

  • My pay will stop in January, but they will hold my job open until May.
  • I will need to find childcare for S. If I use a childminder, this is around £100 a week. Despite several phone calls and messages, I’ve not been able to get a response from the nursery closest to me as to what their costs would be
  • Regarding payment for childcare, there are two options. My employers are part of the childcare vouchers scheme, which is a salary sacrifice set-up. I can opt to have a maximum of £243 per month taken from my pay (before tax and NI) to be paid to my childcare provider. Or I can have my Working Tax Credits help with childcare costs. They will pay “up to” 70% of the cost of my childcare. But if I do the childcare vouchers thing, I can’t get Tax Credits for my childcare. Unless my childcare is more than £243 per month, in which case I can apply for Tax Credits to pay “up to” 70% of the difference. It’s almost as if they’re trying to trick you into being out of pocket.
  • My employers are obliged to provide me with a place I can express breast milk for S while at work, but only until she is a year old – so April. After that I suppose everyone thinks she should be fully weaned, and to hell with whether she actually is or not.
  • As far as I can tell, I will be earning just enough that I won’t qualify for Housing Benefit, or Council Tax Benefit. 
  • I would qualify for free prescriptions, eye tests, dentist, etc.
  • From a pre-tax pay of around £200 a week I will have to pay £85 rent, £25 council tax, childcare, gas, electricity, food, water… I’m no mathlete, but I can’t see how that adds up. Little bit worried. It’s difficult to get any sort of prediction as to what my Tax Credits would be.
smug Jeremy Kyle
This is what staying home entails

If I don’t go back to work:

  • Income Support is £71 a week.
  • I would get Child Tax Credits, but (obviously) not Working Tax Credits.
  • I would qualify for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
  • I think I would get some sort of vouchers for fruit and milk.
  • I can stay on Income Support until S is 5, if I so wish. The thought of five years of daytime telly is a bit horrid though.
One thing I need to take into consideration is that I have signed up to do this OU course, and want to do a good job with it. I also want to finish as soon as possible, which means taking as many credits at a time as I can – which means having the time to study them!
I spoke to the Income Support people a few times last week, and discovered that between February and May, while I am technically employed but receiving no pay, I can claim benefits as if I were not employed. 
For the moment my plan is to do just that. From February to May I will claim Income Support, and see if I can live reasonably on benefits and not go mental. By that point I will have been off work more than a year so I may well find I really need to go back to work. My bank balance may agree with me.
So what I’ve basically decided to do is to postpone making a decision for a few more months. Good work, Vicky.

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Vicky is a mother, a blogger, a podcaster and a social media trainer. She writes about life as a single mother, parenting and lifestyle type things.

1 Comment
  • Kim @ This Belle Rocks

      REPLY

    It does sound like quite the predicament. I&#39;m from the States, and I&#39;m not even sure how our benefits work (I&#39;ve always had to go back to work 6 weeks after having each of my babies), so obviously I&#39;ve always done the work thing. I was lucky enough to have a reasonably priced daycare provider at the ready, though.<br /><br />Good luck with your decision!

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