Lone parent with two kids, no money at all, how do you do it

(51 Posts)
oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 16:14:19

Getting £26 a week taken off income support for an unknown fine and ancient budgeting loan, now totalling 2000 apparently, and due to my ex -

I pay 30 per week to top up my rent (so have just cancelled out my child benefit) - I cannot move the kids again

20 + 25 for gas and electric per week on meter

Debts owing, tv and council tax clears out the rest -

So how the hell do I feed and clothe my family?

I'm crying my eyes out writing this - I have no extended family, and balliff letters a plenty right now -

What do I do??

RogueRebel Fri 03-Jan-14 19:28:37

sometimes working doesn't make you better off, you will lose free school meals for a start. You need to first write down all your outgoings on paper then everything you receive.

Then write to all your debtors and explain you are a single parent on benefits (I know this may be embarrassing for some people it was for me) This will give the debtors a clearer picture, they won't enforce court action as they will only get a minimum payment plan and court fees.
when you write ask if they would be willing to freeze the debt and payments while you look for a job and get you financial situation in a better state, offer a review after 6months. they usually accept this.

Then look and see if there is anywhere you can make cuts?
Why do you pay the extra £30 rent in private housing?

in relation to the loan phone/write and ask why your ex hasn't been chased for half?

I was sent a letter about repaying CTC from when I was with my ex, I questioned why I was solely responsible and they cut the amount in half which made a big difference.

Before you look for a job, do some childcare research. where is it available, prices etc this will give you an idea of costing, you can claim 70% of the cost of your childcare but there is a capped amount per week.
after you have prices for childcare, make an appointment for the Job centre they can input all your info into the computer and it will give you all the benefits available and show you the amount of money your going to be better off by. But be warned this won't take into account your traveling costs to and from work which could cancel out any profit

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 19:35:28

rogue thank you -

I just need to work, need childcare -

Maybe if I could just stop fucking crying for one second I'd sort -

This is so not how I saw our life going -

I'm just embarrassed

Farrowandbawlbauls Fri 03-Jan-14 19:36:31

Don't be embarrassed. You still haven't said if you are in council or private as that will make a huge difference - especially if someone has been giving you wrong information.

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 19:39:24

Farrow private renting x

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 19:40:15

I have to pay 30 per week top up rent

Farrowandbawlbauls Fri 03-Jan-14 19:41:52

You've been given wrong information then.

The housing benefit cap only applies to council and housing association tennents - not private. If I find antyhing that says different I'll let you know but I think your landlord or someone is playing funny buggers.

Call the CAB on Monday or tomorrow if you can and get the sorted out - that should give you £30 a week to play with.

Minime85 Fri 03-Jan-14 19:55:25

are you claiming school meals for child at school? then you know he/she has had a hot meal. cook in batches so can freeze and have a meal more than one day. tin chopped toms, two peppers and a courgette make cheap and easy to cook meal for at least two dinners with pasta.

lots of good advice re CAB hope you can get in quickly. can you ask at sure start re food banks?

good luck

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 19:56:38

farrow not a 'cap' its an allowance, which (for people privately renting) LEA, because I have a box room, I'm not entitled to (two sons, not a 'son and daughter) not allowed now, so only paying for 2 bedrooms, not three

hense, 120 per month excess

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 19:57:29

sorry, LHA (local housing allowance)

queenofthepirates Fri 03-Jan-14 20:04:09

When you've got the basics sorted out and you're feeling a bit better about yourself, how about having a think about how you can make some extra money without incurring childcare costs (which incidentally you can claim most of it back but let's start small).

I run an ebay shop selling fabric. It was super easy to set up and after a year of hard work, I now take around £2k in sales a month. I sort out the orders after my DD has gone to bed and order stock online to be delivered to me at home. It's perfect for a single parent and you can start really small with an outlay that works for you (even £10 worth of stock can be a start). You just have to chose something to sell that either interests you or you can make a profit on.

Drop me a PM if you want to chat about setting up an ebay, Etsy or Folksy shop and I will be happy to chat to you (or any other single parents thinking about it).

SoonToBeSix Fri 03-Jan-14 20:04:46

Op that's not how hb works with private landlords it a fixed amount based on lha amounts. You would be allocated the same amount if you lived in a two bed or a six bed.

joanofarchitrave Fri 03-Jan-14 20:09:15

I know this is tough, would hate it myself, but if I couldn't feed my children I would put the telly in a cupboard and cancel the licence. Alternatively I do know people who have detuned the telly, only watch DVDs and can prove this to the licence people, but I might not take the risk in your circs.

On Monday when they are open again, ring the Gingerbread helpline about your situation, esp the financial side.

Re work, try local dog walking? You'd have to pick and choose your dogs if you are out with the kids. Alternatively, ironing? There's quite a lot of threads about ironing businesses on here.

This is not for ever. Children get older. You just have to do what you can do, at this stage.

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 20:11:34

soonto I have my landlord paid directly from HB (I don't even know how much they get paid!!??) But I pay DD 30 per week from my bank account - ???

NigellasDealer Fri 03-Jan-14 20:15:41

soontobesix i think that is how it works - LHA amounts vary depending on if you have two children of the same sex or not and how old they are.
so for example if you had two boys they would be expected to share a room and you would only receive the amount for a two bed place, even if you had three bedrooms.
OP hang in there there is some great advice on this thread -

It's not top up rent. It's the difference between the LHA amount of housing benefit and the actual rent. My rent is £525. Housing benefit LHA rate is £428. So I have to pay the difference. Some people will get that difference paid too for a length of time due to special circumstances. I saw the CAB people the other week who said you have to apply to your council for it but not everyone gets it. That's what happens when there's no private rents available at the LHA rate sad

NigellasDealer Fri 03-Jan-14 20:19:28

yes thats right you can go to the council and fill in an application form for Discretionary Housing Payment

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 20:25:40

nigella your right about the LHA stuff, I have 3 beds and 2 boys (even though you couldn't swing a cat bed 3), so LHA has allowed for me to pay 30 excess in rent per week -

queenofthepirates Fri 03-Jan-14 22:07:37

OP, could that 'extra' room be made to pay for itself? Maybe something like a couch surfer if you live in an area people would like to visit? Or use it for storing things people don't want at home?

RogueRebel Fri 03-Jan-14 22:35:03

I know how you feel but remember it can get better, and it will. Do you get your 15hours free childcare for your youngest? Does your primary school offer an after school club? these can really help out with childcare.
All the advice on home business are really good. Also ask about positions at your, school dinner lady etc

Try not to let it get you too down. set your self realistic goals so you can see yourself getting somewhere. give yourself until X date to contact all debtors to freeze/reduced payments that way it will feel like your moving onwards and upwards.

Search through any unwanted items around the house and sell on FB/eBay/carboot this will provide a little extra cash.

Do you have any talents you can use? photography? arts and crafts? I saw a lot of people over the Christmas period making money selling reindeer feed online. it was just porridge oats and glitter but people were buying it.

nikaia60 Sat 04-Jan-14 10:45:25

With the benefits you're on you would probably qualify for 70% of childcare costs being covered by your tax credits. If your youngest is over 3 you'll get EYFE (15 hrs of free term time childcare per week). Your local council should be able to give you a list of nurseries / preschools in your area where you can claim this - even if your LO only does 3 hours per day that's a couple of hours a day that you could take on private cleaning jobs. You're right, it's very difficult to find a job with hours that fit around nursery / school pick ups and drop offs so your best bet is to create one! There are a few different things that you could do - cleaning, dog walking, ebay selling / other online business, childminding.
Don't lose hope - focus on the options that you have to earn money, as this will help you feel more in control. Good luck!

SoonToBeSix Sat 04-Jan-14 11:09:36

Hi op how are you feeling today? I know it might not be ideal for your children to move house if they are settled but £30 is an awful lot when you are on a low income. Do you have you name down for social housing. You would only be entitled to a two bed but you might be lucky and get a dining room you could use as a bedroom. Hope things get better for you .

notthefirstagainstthewall Sat 04-Jan-14 13:12:56

Can you go to Uni in September?

As a single parent you get full HB and are exempt from council tax. You get a loan and allowance of over £3,000 in Sept, Jan and May. You get Child Tax Credit (which I chose to get weekly to live off).

There is a hardship fund that hands out money freely.

I really miss not counting the pennies

muser31 Sun 05-Jan-14 18:50:08

hey there. im sorry what you are going through... there has been so much good advice but i just wanted to add in that churches can be very helpful too. for practical and emotional support - maybe you could check them out in your area. our church helps out lone parents i am sure they would be willing to help. also if the kids go to sunday school it will give you an hours space to clear your head. obviously this won't work for you if you are an unbeliever or anything, but im just throwing it out there.

Agree with the fab advice and suggestions up thread.

I hope you're feeling a bit brighter today.
It's so soul destroying isn't it?

Have you applied for discretionary housing benefit payments?
Might be worth a try if not. £30 is a lot of money to find on a limited budget.

All the best. I hope things improve for you soon. brew flowers

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