I’m sorry that I am a blight on society

blight on societyIt’s the day of the budget and I know that I will be one of the ones that the Government is going to target.   Yes, I am on their radar as being a drain on society.  In fact, I tick many of their targeted boxes:

  • I’m a single mum
  • I have more than two children – five dependents to feed and clothe
  • I have recently deliberately reduced my employed working hours
  • I will only be working 16 hours a week which is mostly through self-employment
  • I will be under the tax threshold in September
  • I claim child tax credit
  • I claim working tax credit
  • I claim housing benefit
  • I claim disability living allowance for my daughter

So there we have it.  Looking at these facts, I am a blight on society.  I shouldn’t have had so many children if I’m not prepared to support them without the need of benefits.   I shouldn’t deliberately reduce my hours, leading to a greater reliance on benefits.  I should be working full-time and contributing to society.  I am nothing but a scrounger.

That’s how the Government and, I suspect, a substantial proportion of the public when simply looking at the facts.  But, as in every case, there is a person and a story behind every statistic.  So let me tell you mine.

I was up until 1:15am this morning.  Working.  Marking GCSE exam papers as I have been for the last month.  Working an extra 30 hours a week (in addition to my three day a week teaching job and two businesses) often means working until the early hours and then getting up at 5:30am to start again before the children get up.  This is why I haven’t written my blog for so long.

I do work.  In fact, I have worked since I was 18.  I worked three jobs to pay for my degree.  I did not apply for a grant or loan to pay for my education – I paid for it by working 40 hours a week with three small children while studying.  My degree and subsequent teacher training enabled me to work as a teacher for the last 10 years, educating thousands of students and paying plenty of tax.  Does this make me a scrounger?

I had six children over 18 years.  Maybe I should have stuck to two but I was married and we could afford them.   In fact, we had calculated that I would be able to resign from teaching and stay at home after our last baby working self-employed.  We claimed none or very little tax credits over those years as we both worked full-time and earned over the threshold, apart from when I was on maternity leave.  I did not have six children to claim more money in benefits.

I did not choose to be a single mum.  If you read Two Years Ago, you will see that I had no choice in the matter.  But when I became a single mum, I didn’t choose the unemployment route and sign on.  Alex was only 10 days old when I started exam marking and six weeks old when I returned to self-employment.  As I owned my own home, I wasn’t entitled to help with the mortgage and although I did claim tax credits, I had to return to work very quickly to pay the mortgage and bills.  Does this make me a lazy single parent as the Government would portray me?

In order to be able to move to Telford and pay for both the mortgage on the house and my new rent plus the bills that I had to pay on both houses, I worked 7 jobs for three months.  My ex-husband was unemployed so if I wanted to be able to move without getting the house repossessed, I needed to have enough funds in my account to cover all costs.  Working 7 jobs was more exhausting than I can express, but I did it to give my children a better life.

Recently, I have reduced my working hours.  In fact, I resigned from my job.  And yes, I agree that this will make me rely on benefits more than in the past.  In that sense, I can see that some may see me as just taking from society.  However, I will still be working from September.  It will simply be self-employment rather than employment, running three small businesses from home.  I agree, that I will be earning less than when I was employed and so may be seen as being irresponsible.

However, starting a business will always mean taking a pay cut.  Businesses do generally make a loss to start with.  Does this mean that nobody should move from employment to self-employment?  Over time, I hope to be earning more than I am currently and paying more tax and receiving less tax credits, but this will take time and hard work.  I don’t mind working hard but in that period while I build up the business I will be more reliant on benefits.  For that, I can only apologise, although I will be working just as hard as I was while in employment.  The difference is that I will be earning less and be there for my children more.

So why did I resign?  Carrying on working the hours I have been doing was leaving me exhausted, affecting my mental health and so impacting on my children.  Part of this was due to the changing climate in teaching that the Conservative Government has caused.  In addition, one of my daughter has medical needs that means I need to collect her from school when she has an attack, which is difficult to do when in employment – not many bosses will let you leave at a minute’s notice to dash to the school or hospital.  So after 10 years of working, paying tax and not claiming benefits, I have found myself in a situation when I need a little back of what I have paid in.

I’m sorry, Conservative Government, that you see me as a scrounger, feel that I should have only had two children and shouldn’t be claiming benefits.  I am doing my very best.  I work every minute I can while supporting my children and taking care of them.  I know it isn’t enough though and you are going to punish me and my children today by reducing our tax credits and housing benefit.  This won’t make me work any harder – I am working as hard as I can – but it will mean more cuts to my budget at home.  Which will mean less spending on food and clothes (as I can’t reduce my rent or other bills) and therefore, less money going back into the economy.

I wait nervously to see how I – a statistical blight on society – will be affected, as will thousands of other working parents who claim tax credits.  We don’t claim because we want to be benefit scroungers, we claim to top up our income from paid work so that our children are not in poverty.  We do our best to juggle working and parenting but it clearly isn’t enough.

While I wait for the budget announcements and my children are happily playing, I had better get back to the exam marking, while feeling undervalued and belittled by our current government.

Mums' Days

14 Comments on I’m sorry that I am a blight on society

  1. Louisa Herridge
    September 13, 2015 at 4:30 pm (3 years ago)

    Wonderful blog. Please read my blog those-who-can-do-those-who-cant-teach https://lou15a.wordpress.com/ As a teacher I know how hard you must work. Keep up the good work in being a fantastic role model for your children x #weekendblogshare

  2. You Baby Me Mummy
    July 15, 2015 at 8:43 am (4 years ago)

    You certainly are not a blight on society lovely lady. You are a shining example of a role model for those who care to look. This post just shows that you cannot assume you understand situations until you have walked in people’s shoes. Thanks for sharing with #TheList xx
    You Baby Me Mummy recently posted…Sodors Legend of The Lost Treasure PremiereMy Profile

  3. Chris
    July 12, 2015 at 7:51 am (4 years ago)

    Unfortunately Laura she IS the norm. Statistically most benefit claimants are pensioners then people in work. Those you have a ‘bee in your bonnet’ about are a tiny minority in comparison. It’s called propaganda and you’ve swallowed it.

  4. Leigh - Headspace Perspective
    July 11, 2015 at 8:15 am (4 years ago)

    Your post articulates exactly why we cannot judge people. It’s too easy to follow Daily Mail style headlines that proclaim everyone who claims benefits can’t be bothered to work. The Tories’ policies are designed for people with money and privilege, on the whole. All the best to you xxx #TheList
    Leigh – Headspace Perspective recently posted…HSJ Patient Leaders – Changing the Way Health Services Perceive Patient ExperienceMy Profile

  5. Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)
    July 10, 2015 at 7:28 pm (4 years ago)

    I am not yet a citizen of this country but I wish that they will find a way to make things better. My husband is working 2 jobs and I dont know what is going to happen with out benefits but reducing it will definitely make things harder for us =( #pocolo
    Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) recently posted…Learning ProcessMy Profile

  6. Ali
    July 10, 2015 at 3:30 pm (4 years ago)

    You are a role model for working mums, a role model for your kids and a role model to the kids you teach. end of. Ali @ Mum in a Nutshell guest hosting for #PoCoLo
    Ali recently posted…I’m guest hosting this week’s PoCoLoMy Profile

  7. chantelle hazelden
    July 9, 2015 at 1:17 pm (4 years ago)

    a wonderfully honest post, goes to show that people shouldn’t judge, they don’t know our personal circumstances and have no idea what goes on in our lives. At the end of the day most of us are just trying to get by in life. I hope you aren’t affected too much by the budget cuts x
    chantelle hazelden recently posted…Chia Pudding RecipeMy Profile

  8. Amanda McIntyre Ure
    July 9, 2015 at 12:57 pm (4 years ago)

    Kudos to you but like everyone else, your value is infinite and there is no need to justify your existence. Everyone has a right to food, clothes and shelter, and in this society money is needed for those, so like everyone you have a right, even if you did nothing all day.

  9. Laura
    July 9, 2015 at 12:04 pm (4 years ago)

    I read your article with interest as I am unfortunately one of those people with a real bee in my bonnet about those on benefits, but from personal experience you are not the norm and I believe that the benefit system was made for people like you, those who are temporarily financially unstable for whatever reason but that are trying to get themselves out of that situation. It is unfortunate that the system has been abused by so many people as a way of life not a temporary helping hand and that is the reason it now needs to be addressed and rectified. It is unfortunate for you that you are now going to suffer due to those system abusers. I hope all your hard work pays off and you start reaping the rewards soon!

  10. Clare
    July 8, 2015 at 7:23 pm (4 years ago)

    Really interesting heartfelt piece. It is always good to listen to all sides of the story. I really wish you lots of luck with your businesses and admire you for doing what you do 🙂 You would be a great case study for national media. Maybe you should approach them to tell your side of the story?
    Clare recently posted…Mummy & Me, June 2015My Profile

  11. JanetteDavey
    July 8, 2015 at 1:16 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you. It is how the government makes me feel and portrays me though x

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  1. […] was no surprise that tax credits were targeted.  As I said in my post before the Budget, there were speculations that this would be the focus for the welfare cuts.  Yet, initially it […]

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