Stay-at-home single mother on benefits

This is what I am.

It’s taken far longer to assimilate this fact than it should have done, but the brain is slow. And of course it isn’t actually a fact until I receive some benefits but I live in hope.

Five years since the breakdown, give or take a couple of weeks. One year since the relationship ended, give or take a couple of weeks. Half a year since employment ended, give or take a couple of weeks.

It clarifies lots of things. Work, for instance. I don’t stand a hope in hell of getting a full-time job well enough paid to cover the childcare expenses incurred by the act of going out to work. Assuming I had the mental resources to deal with full time work. I don’t stand a hope in hell of getting a part time job that would pay well enough to cover the childcare expenses incurred by the act of going out to work and cover the extent of the benefits I should lose if I started working even part time. Freelance work? as above but more so.

It’s called the benefits trap:

Lone mothers in the UK trying to get off state handouts and return to employment could lose money because of the extra taxes, the loss of benefits, and the huge cost of childcare.

The OECD found that, of all the world’s major economies, Britain has the worst benefits trap for women. A single mother moving back into work would have to forfeit 101.3 per cent of the extra cash she earned because of the extra tax, childcare costs, and relinquished benefits payouts.

So it’s time to hunker down. Cut my coat according to my cloth. I am lucky to have a house to call my own, possessions acquired during the days of affluence. Lucky too to have local friends for the first time in my life, as well as good friends further afield. I am lucky to have the internet as a creative and social outlet. I’m trying not to think about the future.

7 Replies to “Stay-at-home single mother on benefits”

  1. Local friends. How wonderful!
    Must make such a difference. Quality of your life just goes up exponentially.
    Can you even just call round for a cup of tea unannounced? Is is as good as that?
    I’d feel bad about just turning up at mine; everyone has his/her agenda for the day and you are just about to create havoc by turning up unannounced. Why does nobody ever have nothing to do?
    So I’m pleased for you about that one.

  2. Yes, the local friends are utterly wonderful. I used the washing machine of one recently when mine broke. Think of that! I *could* turn up unannounced for tea since the distances involved are small but they might not be in. Few of them have nothing to do since most of them have children and many work a bit too. But I can phone on the off-chance to check they’re in. And we look after each other’s kids too, which is great, especially in emergencies. A pool of potential care.

  3. It’s a hell of a thing, innit? And so many of us struggle with these kinds of issues. It’s disturbingly easy to shame ourselves for not having (or making) money.

    The thing about not being able to earn enough to afford the childcare you’d need in order to leave your kids with someone else (not to mention the benefits you’d need were the job to not work out)…well, damn. That just sucks.

    You’re mighty rich in friends, though. 🙂 I feel blessed on that account.

  4. What about if you get a lodger – is their rent also deducted from benefits? Is so, maybe you could still do that and come to an arrangement in kind: they pay you in childcare, shared housework and cooking etc?

  5. It would zap too much, I asked. However it’s a possibility in combination with secure and relatively remunerative part-time work which would still allow me to pick up secondborn from school. Not entirely beyond the realms of possibility but not on the horizon right now. Especially not until the house has been thoroughly sorted out and the subsidence mended.

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