For the record

Nothing much is happening beyond the continuing attempts to battle with the benefits system while actually continuing to feed, clothe and house the family.

It is full of ironies. The first is that it transpires one cannot be ill and a single parent at the same time. By claiming incapacity benefit (for being designated as too ill to work by a doctor – “certified”, indeed) one is not eligible to be considered for help with council tax, mortgage interest repayments, school meals, prescription charges, dental care etc etc.

I applied for benefits as a lone parent with two young children and was not aware of the complexities of the situation. It seems those who make the decisions about these things are not aware of the complexities either. What I require is income support. I can’t have income support and incapacity benefit at the same time. I was awarded incapacity benefit which is for me alone, ignores the existence of the children and excludes the possibility of help with anything else beyond a payment of £61.35 per week.

So I have had to stop claiming incapacity benefit, (which unsurprisingly took immediate effect and elicited a letter a day later informing me all payments had ceased); I have opened a new claim for income support (which took four days and will take a further fortnight to process) and have appealed against the original decision to give me incapacity benefit rather than income support (which I have almost no faith will achieve anything).

It appears that now, after days of dragging the poor half-terming-holidaying children round municipal offices all over the borough of Brent, there is nothing left to do but to wait and hope.

Another irony is that if I sell anything to raise money in the interim I am deemed to have income. This then excludes the possibility of obtaining more in benefit than any object I have to sell is worth. The cut-off point for income is £25 per week so perhaps I could sell one item or group of items a week for £24.99 (just to be on the safe side).

Not ironic at all is my admiration for the principles of the ex. He regrets that it is not possible for him to provide financial support towards his child without negating more benefits than his contribution would cover. But obviously he cannot be a party to any form of benefit or tax fraud by making payments in any way other than directly into my bank account. It is inspiring to come across such honesty and devotion to the rule of law in a world where so many people think only of themselves.

Tomorrow I shall pick up my camera which, after a month away (presumably in intensive care) is now, I am told, better. (Oh yes, I mentioned that already. Well, no harm in enjoying the fact twice.) I shall have some time without the children also for the first time in a month (it’s really annoying being the only child of a disfunctional family – no relations around for childcare options) and I shall hang out with friends. I shall imbibe culture and companionship. And very probably coffee. And click, lots, I hope. 🙂

7 Replies to “For the record”

  1. Of course the whole system is designed to drive you into badly paid work, which will almost certainly bring in more than £65 a week; but what really mystifies me is that the effect on the children of an exhausted and resentful mother must be so bad. Unless she were such an angel as yourself, of course.

    I’m trying to look at it as a problem of social engineering. The alternative, of course, is to make single motherhood a decently paid occupation. This is apparently politically impossible, because in that case the poor breed at the expense of upright, voting taxpayers who read the Daily Mail.

    Meanwhile, talking of UVTs, your ex is practising, amongst other things, an unpleasant form of tax evasion, since the benefits he refuses to replace are extracted from upright voting taxpayers such as your friends. All £63.50 a week of them.

    It is extraordinary how different the psychologies of rich and poor are supposed to be. You have a marginal tax rate, effectively, of 100% and this is supposed to inspire you to work. Meanwhile, we learn that a hedge fund manager is such a sensitive beast that at the mere suggestion that he might be taxed at a marginal rate of more than 10% of his income he quite loses the will to toil, and has to reture, shocked, to his place in the cotswolds.

    SOrry, these are not helpful thought. But short of writing them acrosss the back of a large cheque, I don’t know how else to indicate concern or sympathy.

  2. If he knew the implications of you being awarded Income Support your ex might clamour for you to be put on incapacity benefit instead since in that case the CSA doesn’t get involved either. When you get Income Support instead the CSA will go after him.

    He may prefer, and it may be better for you financially, to have you on IVB and him give you a decent cash top up to keep the CSA off his back.

    Good luck with it all.

  3. acb – thank you. Empathy is the best medicine. The point about mothers (ill or exhausted or both) is a particularly good one. The irony of working for crap wages in order to pay someone else to care for the children and rarely to see them yourself is a bitter one. As for my angelic status my children would very swiftly put you straight on that one 🙂

    mikey – thanks for the good wishes. The man at the CAB said the best advice was “never need help, never get ill and never grow old” and that seems to sum up the situation very accurately.

  4. “it’s really annoying being the only child of a disfunctional family – no relations around for childcare options”

    All the more reason to give your cousin Chris a ring and invite yourself (and the kids!) over for a meal – perhaps even stay the night so you can get pissed as a fart and bring him (and his wonderful wife)up to speed with all your news!

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