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??

Citizens advice beaureu to check you are receiving everything you are entitled to. Find out what debts if any can be written off or put onto minimum payment plans.

If the budgeting loan was in your xp's name see if that can be transferred to him? Seems wrong that they can chase just you for it.

Do you get tax credits? That could be used for food shopping. You might need to seriously food plan and shop using supermarket basics. But it is doable plenty of people do cope. First thing first is get that appointment at cab and get some help with entitlements and sorting out the debts.

Katkins1 Fri 03-Jan-14 16:24:49

Tax credits for food shopping. CAB to pay the minimum every week on debts. See if you can get full housing benefit- you should on income support. You should get council tax benefit, too. Please go and check, you aren't getting your full entitlement from what you have said there.

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 16:26:49

I get child tax credits, but that cancels out debts I'm paying off, council tax, tv license and excess gas or electric we may need -

after that, I'm in the minus figures -

not accounting for phone?internet bill, just waiting to get cut off -

Then no internet, phone, food, clothes,

I need to work, but childcare seem to be a fortune, and I've no family to help,

Farrowandbawlbauls Fri 03-Jan-14 16:28:52

Council tax should only be taking £14 a month off you for this year then another £14 for the arrears. I'd look into that one with the CAB.

Tax credits are a must and will help you out no end.

Renegociate with everyone you can and tell then you are on benefits - I seem to recall they can only take so much off you for bills, I think it's about £5 a month but I may be wrong.

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 16:29:20

kat apparrently I do get full housing benefit, but because of a 'box room', will not allow excess they think I'm entiteled to, hense need to pay 30 per week to landlord in 'top up' x

stargirl1701 Fri 03-Jan-14 16:29:45

You need to make an appt with the Citizen's Advice Bureau. They can negotiate with your debtors to make your payments manageable and check you are receiving everything you are entitled to.

Farrowandbawlbauls Fri 03-Jan-14 16:30:46

Whoah - landlord?

If you are in private renting, that cap doesn't apply...it only applies to council and housing associations, not private landlords.

NigellasDealer Fri 03-Jan-14 16:33:06

how old are your children?
could you set up a small business perhaps online - you will still get wftc , ctc, cb, and possibly hb too.
or a small cleaning company? it would only take a pile of leaflets and a phone line.
also what about CSA?

2whippetsnobed Fri 03-Jan-14 16:45:21

I f you can please look at Moneysavingexpert website. There are usually loads of helpful people who can make suggestions about how you can move forward.
I think you should go to the CAB as soon as you can. The charity Stepchange may also be able to advise you too.

RogueRebel Fri 03-Jan-14 16:47:43

How old are your dc? what are you claiming at the moment? IS? JSA?

I'm a lone parent with two and I have recently started working 16hours per week because of the same problems your having.

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 17:37:51

Nigella Thinking outside the box, fantastic ideas x

My Ds's 4 and 10, (ds2 a sept baby, so starts full time next

Rouge i dont mind working anywhere for any hours aslong as we can manage -

(What I'd love to know is how they think single mums are doing this on purpose??? I've worked my whole life, how and why)))!!

I am single mum of two teenagers, although one is over 19 now and at college but i don't get any money for him. I have been unemployed for just over a year, it is hard

I only pay £10 a week on the gas and electric, so £20 in total its cold but we cant afford the heating on. I get £60 a week CTC for one child, so you should be getting £120 plus your income support balance a week. How much do you spend in the supermarket, we eat lots of cheap pasta/rice and value mince.

You have to pay council tax everything else phone them and tell them you can only make a £1 a week token payment until you get a job, i have no one say no when i have offered this.

Clothes and shoes will be a problem for you as your kids are still growing, what about their dad does he help? I get my DD one thing a week from primark so she had clothes but only basic ones, if she wants ore expensive she gets them from her dad or for Christmas/birthday.

I second getting over MSE they have lots of boards with good tips.

Can you move save the £30 a week rent you have to pay?

FourAndDone Fri 03-Jan-14 17:55:00

I agree to pay everyone £1 a week except council tax. Also agree with checking about whether you need to top up your rent with it been a private let.
I don't think moving is an option. How will op afford moving van, childcare during move, bond etc?

£20 and £25 for gas and electricity seems an enormous amount per week - that's £200 per month!! Surely that could be cut down - do you have gas central heating? If so there must be ways to bring your electric down.

Also do you not get maintenance?

Farrowandbawlbauls Fri 03-Jan-14 18:03:10

As said before, that's a huge amount of energy. Can you look at other deals if not on prepay or getting the landlord to take the meter out so you can get a cheaper deal on DD.

Also, if your ex has taken out anything you are not actually liable for it. I can't understand why they are taking it out of our IS if it's HIS loan.

Babyroobs Fri 03-Jan-14 18:04:43

If you got a job for at least 16 hours a week you will be better off hopefully as you would get working tax credit too. You would also get a large chunk of any childcare costs paid.

Farrowandbawlbauls Fri 03-Jan-14 18:06:26

If you earn under £100 a week you are still entitled to your IS as well.

Go to the CAB for all your options. They are brilliant and a damn sight more helpful than the job centre have ever been.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 03-Jan-14 18:10:23

You need to find any job asap and then agree a repayment plan for the budgetting loan. If you have worked all your life then you should have recent contacts, references and experience.

Find a template on the net and offer all the companies you owe payment to a token payment with a promise to review once working.

You also need to get the childrens father to assist, be it in money terms or more access to save you some childcare costs once working.

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 18:25:41

I phoned the gas/electric company who said it was low, I should be spending 2.90 per day on both, at the lowest cost!!???

I'm on a meter, and it eats credit -

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 18:26:37

(Near £6 a day for gas and electric??)

Farrowandbawlbauls Fri 03-Jan-14 18:28:44

That's not low.

I'm paying £100 a month for both in a 3 bed semi - THAT's on the low side and not even considered to be low.

You also need to apply for the winter discount asap. Call up your energy supplier to see if you qualify - it's not just for pensioners.

oopsadaisyme Fri 03-Jan-14 18:45:23

to be honest I give up, I'm so fucking tired,

I need to work, that's just it, so how do I get childcare and jobs to make us better off??

(btw, i'm not an underqualified lout, I've worked my whole life in many a successful capacity, from Publishing companies, project co-ordinator for the council, management PA for the NHS)

Right now, I'd clean toilets to make ends meet

We have key meters here and I pay £20 a week on the gas that include £5 arrears so £15 usage and £5 a week on electric. I'm in a 3 bed semi extended downstairs to twice the size of upstairs so your tariff seems extremely high to me.
I don't have my heating on a timer I don't turn it on on a morning as we are all showering and leaving for work/college/school (1 adult 4 dc aged 16, 11, 7 & 4). The heating usually goes on around 4pm until 6 or 7 pm then it gets too warm. I am strict about dc putting on sweatshirts or a onesie if they are cold.

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

Oops sorry, missed that it's already been suggested!

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