So far this year I have read about the Government’s changes to the benefit system & also to the increase on tax for those in the 40% bracket with mild interest, but nothing more if I’m honest, because they don’t affect me. What has
pissed me off sent me over the edge is the ruling today that politicians’ wages should increase of over 10% to ‘bring them in line’ after years of receiving no pay rise. This article in the Telegraph shows how the gap between the average worker & the average politician has widened to a huge void since 1972.
I wanted to avoid getting into a political discussion on my blog & I applaud the fact that some politicians have rejected these pay increases (although as I write this, David Cameron had yet to commit either way), but this seems ridiculous to me – hundreds & thousands of people across the country would like an 11% pay rise this year, because they haven’t had one in recent years, but the reality is that that won’t happen, as the economy is taking baby steps out of the gloom, but still has a long way to go.
Mr T & I are part of the ‘in-betweeners’ (without being briefcase wankers, I must add). We are neither well off nor in the poorest demographic. We both work full-time & have fairly good jobs, but we struggle month on month with the amount of month left at the end of the money, to live life, socialise & do fun things as a family. Now, I understand that things like trips to the zoo or the aquarium are luxuries (& realise I am about to sound incredibly childish when I say ‘it’s not fair’) but it’s not fair that we can’t afford to have a treat like this with Little T after working a full week.
We are actually very fortunate, as my parents have Little T for 2 days of the week, while my mother-in-law has him for half a day, so he is only in paid childcare for 2 & a half days (28 hours in total), but even this is a fair percentage of our income. I sympathise with those who don’t have family who are able to help. We have recently moved Little T from a nursery to a childminder to reduce costs (the nursery costs were around £600 a month & we now pay around £400). If we needed full-time childcare, we would be looking at £1200 for nursery or £800 for the childminder. I don’t feel like you should have to make compromises about your childcare for financial reasons & was actually embarrassed when people asked why we’d moved him (I mumbled something about it being more flexible with a childminder & quickly changed the subject). A recent study by the Daycare Trust showed that a full-time (50 hour) place at nursery would cost an average of £11,000 or £14,000 in London. This is BONKERS. Full time care at the most expensive nursery in London for a child who is under 2 would be £42,000 – that’s a fairly hefty house deposit where I live!
Once Little T gets to 3, things don’t get much easier, although this is what we are led to believe. In order to reduce childcare costs, 3 year olds get 15 hours funded pre-school, but these sessions are usually around 9am to around 12noon, which – for any parent who works full time – is nigh on impossible to commit to. Little T is going to pre-school in September, but in order to get these hours, we have to drop him at the childminders before the sessions & she is to pick him up afterwards. Because we need this ‘wraparound’ care & she is unable to take another child for these hours, it means we need to pay for the 3 hours a day he is getting what is supposed to be free childcare. I understand her reasons for this & have no issues with this as she is responsible for him during this time, but I don’t imagine we are the only family to come across this issue.
The trouble is, childcare isn’t the only demand on our cash. According to the Office for National Statistics, the cost of living has quadrupled in recent years & you don’t need to be a genius to see that incomes haven’t followed suit.
Mr T & I have in the past, admittedly, not been great with money. There are things that we should have said no to that, due in part to my FOMO (see previous blog on this), went on the plastic so we didn’t miss them, so we have card payments to make; we both went to university, so we have student loans to pay; we both have graduate loans, so need to pay for these; we have food to buy; we have cars to fuel, insure & maintain; we have phone bills to pay & a child to clothe & feed too. I can’t remember the last time I purchased myself new clothes as a treat, rather than because the previous item either didn’t fit or was beyond repair.
As we are neither rich nor poor, we don’t qualify for any assistance from the government, other than the £81 a month child benefit (which, when you take into account that a pack of nappies is a fiver & milk costs £8 for a couple of weeks’ supply leaves us with about £50 to cover all other Little T-related costs). I had grand plans of saving a little each month for Little T’s future – perhaps for a university fund or to go travelling, but this looks unlikely at the moment.
Sadly, a knock-on effect of this is the fact that we are in a position where having another child is a financial decision. We simply cannot afford to have another baby & this makes me more sad than I let on to most people. We could not afford to have any less money than we have now, meaning I could not take more than 3 months off work with a new baby, after which my pay halves (I realise some people’s maternity policies do not even give them 3 months’ full pay). We may be able to afford it once Little T goes to school, but I am not sure that the gap might be too big by then. I wonder if this is why there is an increase in 1 child families? I have a friend who is currently pregnant with twins & has a child the same age as Little T, so come September she & her husband will have 3 under 3 (yes, I think she is crackers too!). Having done the maths, she has worked out that if she were to go back to work she would not only be working for free, but also paying extra for childcare on top of that!
I am responsible for organising a volunteering day for work this year & we have chosen to support the fantastic Trussel Trust charity who are responsible for many of the country’s Foodbanks. I went to meet the lady who runs the Birmingham Central Foodbank to discuss what we’d be doing. I’ll be honest & say I preconceived ideas about who would be using a Foodbank, thinking it would be the people out to get ‘something for nothing’ but in actual fact I was wrong. It is people like you. And me. The lady explained that we are abuot 2 pay packets away fro being in crisis & needing a resource like the Foodbank & told a story of a high-flying lawyer in Birmingham who arrived one morning to a redundancy letter on his desk, didn’t get another job & couldn’t pay his rent, so his landlord changed the locks & sold his belongings off to make up what he’d missed out on. The gentleman slept on the streets for a few days & turned up at the Foodbank desperate, hungry, alone & in the £600 suit he’d left work in when he’d returned to his locked flat. My dad always tells me we should have a couple of months’ worth of wages saved up – probably for this very reason – for what he calls a rainy day fund. In reality, it’s been drizzling here for a while & my umbrella has a hole in it & I am not sure what we can do to alter that. This really got me thinking.
not complaining only complaining a little bit, but I think that, as a group, us inbetweeners are often forgotten & continue to be squeezed in the middle without any help. If Mr T & I both had an 11% pay rise, things would look a lot more rosy, but as far as I’m aware, there is no independent body reviewing this on our behalf, so we’ll just have to grin & bear it (or make sure my EuroMillions tickets are bought for this week!).