As a parent of two, I currently receive £33.70 per week in Child Benefit. This is the same for everyone with two children aged 16 or under in the UK. From January next year, if one of the parents earns over £50k per year, you will lose your child benefit.
For the record, we will still qualify for child benefit, but I would LOVE to be in a position to earn enough so that we didn’t qualify. I was desperate to go back to work, but the cost of childcare made it impossible for us. It costs over £15,000 a year to have two children under two years of age in a SureStart nursery full time. I am well aware that it was my
decision to have children, but like so many others, the current economic
climate has meant huge, unpredictable changes for our family. It was
always my intention to return to employed work, but our current
(unforeseen) financial circumstances do not allow this.
Before I had my children, I was a grafter. I was never unemployed
for more than a week. I worked hard so that I could enjoy life. I paid
my way and I was proud of that. I missed that. This spurred me on to set
up my own business which allows me to work from home, and take care of
my children simultaneously (in theory). The reality is that I am “Mummy”
24/7, and trying to run a business from my phone during the day, and in
the evenings – once the kids are asleep. I get 5 hours’ sleep a night – at best.
I know I am not the only person who would happily give up their Child Benefit, and tax credits in exchange for free nursery places for my young children. I am sure some parents with school-age children would swap their Child Benefit, and tax credits for free childcare during the school holidays, so that they could go out to work full time.
My husband’s income covers our bills and mortgage. (We have cancelled all non-essentials since having the kids, and we haven’t had a holiday in over 3 years). If I went out to work and earned £30,000 a year before tax, national insurance and childcare, I would come away with around £7600. By the time you add the cost of commuting and unpaid leave when my children are sick, I would be lucky to see £20 a day from that £30,000 a year job!
So… am I annoyed that people earning over £50,000 a year are losing their child benefit? NO! I would LOVE to be able to earn enough to fall into this category! I would also happily give up my child benefit tomorrow if I got free nursery places for my children, instead. I would be able to give back more, I would be contributing more, I would be providing more for my children, and setting an example to them in the process.
Maybe it wouldn’t reduce the government’s expenses to offer free nursery places to full-time working parents of babies and toddlers, but the amount they’d generate in tax, plus savings on other benefits and tax credits they’d no longer be paying would surely cover it? Maybe if the government offered to exchange child benefit and tax credits for free nursery places, or school holiday childcare to parents who were working over 35 hours a week, more parents would be more inclined to go out to work?
I can say with certainty after running this idea past several non-working parent friends that my idea has had a good response. So, Mr Prime Minister, feel free to take away my Child Benefit, remove tax credit eligibility, give me free childcare, and I will be able to contribute more towards reducing our Country’s debt.
I know my idea won’t suit everybody, but I think the government would find a lot more stay at home parents would be willing to return to work, if they got free childcare instead of child benefit and tax credits.
My new goal is to be earning too much to qualify for Child Benefit by the time my children are both in full time education.