Preparing for the Future

My daughter is now in her first year of college. I’m working part time, because as I’ve said in an earlier post, it makes more sense both financially and for my little family’s happiness. However things are going to change. From September 2018 my girl will have left college, and all of the benefits I receive will stop. Everything. Child Benefit. Tax Credits. Housing Benefit. And the Child Maintenance her dad is currently paying.

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The Poverty Trap of the Hardworking Single Mother

paid peanuts
NOTE: I’ve thought long and hard about publishing this post. It’s potentially got a lot more personal details than I planned to include. I’m not looking for sympathy; this is just an honest report of how it is for, I imagine, many people in similar situations. Maybe somewhere along the line the right people will see it and the problem can begin to be addressed.


Let me start off by saying how much I love my job. And I really do. Those of you who have followed my blog for some time will know that I often get in early, leave late, almost always work through lunch and often take work home so I can work in the evenings too. I do this because I love my job and I take pride in doing it well.

I certainly don’t do it for the money. When I was offered my job I was desperate to get out of my previous position in a dead-end company with not enough work to keep me even slightly occupied (to give you an idea, there were days when I played over 5 hours of Solitaire during my 6 1/2 hour work day). I could see the potential in the new position so I took the job for an extremely low wage.

I’ve managed during this time. Just. I don’t always pay my rent on time. My daughter has to plan to grow out of clothes in advance. I hardly ever go out. I skip evening meals sometimes, maybe 5-10 each month because I just can’t always afford it. In case you’re wondering, my daughter does not.

At the back of my mind I knew I could prove myself before my six month review, so was fairly confident in getting a pay rise in the not too distant future.

Here I am, six months later and I’ve been given a promotion, which is more than I hoped for. My boss has asked me to work out what benefits I would lose with different increments of a pay rise so he can make sure I’m not worse off. Quite decent of him, I thought.

So last night that’s what I did. I worked out the figures for Tax Credits and Housing Benefit corresponding to my current wage and £1000 increments up to a possible £7000 pay rise. I just want to point out that there is no possibility of me getting an £7000 pay rise, I just couldn’t stop, drawn to finding out the impact on my incomings with an almost morbid fascination.

And after all these calculations, using figures from the relevant government websites, I have come to an irrefutable conclusion: I will never have any more money.

If I get a pay rise of £7,000 (which I won’t) I will only be £610 per year better off once my benefits have been adjusted. £11.70 a week. Wow.

I can actually see for the first time ever, why some people don’t try. If this is the thanks I get from the government for being a hard-working, conscientious member of society then why the hell do I bother?

It will be years before I get enough pay rises to actually have more money. My daughter will have grown up and left home before I get a chance to treat her to some of the little things she misses out on now.

I will try hard not to let this demotivate me. I will continue to work my ass off, giving everything I have to my job. Because I have been brought up to work, to pay my way. But it will be hard. The thing that has kept me going is the fervent belief that things will get better. And now I know they won’t.