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To feel strange about this friend's dc being entitled to free school meals with a bit of tax credits thrown in too

(62 Posts)
lecce Fri 19-Aug-11 20:38:32

I think I need a good talking to over this one as I don't like myself for how I feel about it but can't shake off my feelings.

I have a good friend who, imo, has a bit of a useless prick for a husband. I have known her for about 8 years and throughout that whole time her h has never worked as he is writing a book. One book. The same book - he has never finished it. He is educated to Masters level but has never used these qualifications as he has been writing/reearching this book for the best part of ten years.

My friend has never been especially happy about this but things have got worse since they had their ds 5 years ago. The husband does nothing for his son and never has, really. He very rarely spends any time alone with him - didn't do this at all until the child was 6 months old and now, apart from a couple of isolated occasions, does so only during evenings when the boy is asleep. My friend worked full-time from the time her son was one until recently, though she has just gone part-time. Even when she was full-time, her h did no child-care, despite "working from home" and her son had to go to nursery f/t - something that upset my friend greatly (no offence to anyone, but she didn't want it for her son.) Her h has promised her that if he has not finished the book after 10 years, he will find work. The 10 year-mark is this autumn and he has been making noises about needing more time for the last couple of months, much to my friend's dismay.

Financially they are cushioned by her h's pretty wealthy family who give a few hand-outs and, most significantly, have allowed my frend and her h to keep the proceeds from the sale of a house they had bought as an investment when their son was a student. This money has recently allowed my friend and her h to buy a home, and a pretty nice one at that, mortgage-free.

I have never in my life begrudged anyone any kind of benefits before, or, to be more precise, ever given it any thought at all. But now I find myself thinking, why should this man be able to choose not to work, despite being highly qualified, have a lovely home and own it outright and still be able to claim anything at all? I was shopping with my friend today, looking for a lunch-box for ds who, along with her ds, will start school in September. I had assumed that her ds would take a packed lunch along with mine but she said that no, since she went part-time their income is so low that he will have free school meals. I'm afraid I kind of spluttered and laughed a bit, though managed to smooth it over.

Jealousy is such an ugly emotion and I don't like myself for it but, really, he potters around on his never-endingbook, she works part-time, they have a lovely home they own outright, ds has a significant amount of his meals paid for...I like to think a large part of my feelings are down to my deep dislike of her h, who really is a twat, but still, what do you think?

EuphemiaMcGonagall Fri 19-Aug-11 20:43:01

I think it's all down to your dislike of him; the free school meals are a red herring.

You hate the guy and that colours everything.

Bestb411pm Fri 19-Aug-11 20:44:11

I think you don't like her husband smile

Would you really swap your work ethic and morals - and the satisfaction and sense of achievement that brings you for that man as a husband?

It's not right at all, but the system can't analyse everything and weed out the cases that have a lot going on under the surface. That man is going to have to explain to his son one day what exactly he has done with his life and I can't imagine his son is going to be to impressed with having free meals in place of a father with some sense of self-preservation.

GypsyMoth Fri 19-Aug-11 20:46:26

Has she applied for them? Is her DH signing on?

festi Fri 19-Aug-11 20:47:45

it is none of your buisness

GypsyMoth Fri 19-Aug-11 20:49:13

It's not that easy to be eligible for fsm..... Her DH explaining his lack of income to tax credits?

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 19-Aug-11 20:49:22

Whilst its galling they can choose a life of little work with the state paying for that choice, theres nothing you can do about it. She's also chosen to reduce her hours so its not just her DH doing little.

If she claims WTC if the hours are at least 16, then she may find she wont get FSM anyway.

Dont be jealous, be proud that you are supporting your child and paying your own way in life. Children who grow up in households where the adults work grow up with a good work ethic that can only help them as they turn into adults.

DoctorDoctor Fri 19-Aug-11 20:49:30

It's not right, no, and I agree with you on that. But the downside of the benefits systems is that occasionally (not nearly so often as the Daily Mail would have us think) people get them who really shouldn't.

Look at it this way: she has a useless, selfish husband, who won't be a proper father to their son, and she had to work full-time when she didn't want to when the son was a baby, and she will always be beholden to her in-laws. I wouldn't swap for her life in your position. They have more money but you are richer in the ways that matter <Hollywood stirring music emoticon>

usualsuspect Fri 19-Aug-11 20:49:45

I'm pissed off a bout a lot of things ,people getting free school meals ain't one of them

lachesis Fri 19-Aug-11 20:51:58

What Euphemia said.

And honestly, you need to let go of this or it can and will ruin your friendship.

AfternoonDelight Fri 19-Aug-11 20:52:22

The tax credit people don't know the reason why her DH is not working though. Nor do they take into account qualifications when assessing people for tax credits.

If he wants to deprive his family of income (I'd imagine he could earn more than she can claim) then that's something he has to live with.

Geordieminx Fri 19-Aug-11 20:53:30

Sounds like free dinners are the least of her problems sad

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Aug-11 20:54:00

I don't know about jealous but I'm a little puzzled at a 'wealthy family' that buys their workshy son a house but won't fork out a few quid a week for their grandchild's lunch.

lisad123 Fri 19-Aug-11 20:56:42

thing is, most of this is only possible due to his family being rich. I wouldnt begrugde a child a hot meal a day shock

lecce Fri 19-Aug-11 20:56:43

Best and Doctor those were pretty much dh's exact words to me when I ranted on-- mentioned this to him, and I know you are right.

usual That is normally exactly how I feel but in this case, it's hard because her ds would never in a million years be short of decent food, even if it was a case of the ils giving them some money. You are right, though, there are more important things to be upset about.

See, it's working I think, thanks, smile

LineRunner Fri 19-Aug-11 20:57:12

Free School Meals are means-tested according to national criteria. You really have to be pretty poorly paid to qualify. Below £15,600 gross income pa I think.

But as others have said, this is a red herring. You just know that this man's a knob.

EmsieRo Fri 19-Aug-11 21:02:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lecce Fri 19-Aug-11 21:02:55

She certainly qualifies for the fsm. Her income is that low, despite being in a professional role, because of being part-time. I suppose her ils would pay for the meals if asked, but they are claiming for the meals because they are entitled to, rather than because they are desperate. However, the only reson they are not desperate is because they are subsidised by their ils...

Yes, she is in a shit situation, and no, I certainly don't begrudge her ds a hot meal (and I know he'd get one anyway) but I do begrudge her h and his decision to "opt-out" as he has.

MumblingRagDoll Fri 19-Aug-11 21:09:37

If he worked full time and she stayed home but was working on a book...would you feel the same way?

HauntedLittleLunatic Fri 19-Aug-11 21:10:13

I have a recent windfall sitting in the bank. Enough - just about - to pay off my I have pretty significant financial assets. My dcs are entitled to free school meals, so they have them...along with a couple of other perks that go with them.

Do you feel the same about me? Am I wrong to claim something I am entitled to. I could provide for my DCs from my I wrong to take the help which I receive having been assessed as eligible for free school meals?

happyinherts Fri 19-Aug-11 21:13:37

Don't quite understand how she's eligible for free school meals...

Our family income is around £13.K - We don't qualify for free school meals as the eligibility criteria doesn't include those claiming working families tax credit even though income below the £16K stated for families with neither parent working. I've always questioned this anomaly, so it's highly unlikely she'll qualify.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Aug-11 21:14:34

He is a bit of an oddity. Feckless and poor but kidding himself he's one of the idle rich. Maybe he thinks it's pointless breaking sweat earning an honest crust when mummy and daddy will drop dead one day and leave him the proverbial farm?

TheRealTillyMinto Fri 19-Aug-11 21:14:44

the free stuff must be annoying. but i would really worry about your friend's future. i cannot see her husband stopping being useless anytime.

PumpkinBones Fri 19-Aug-11 21:20:42

Haunted - eligible is not the same as entitled.

festi Fri 19-Aug-11 21:21:06

I didnt think if you where eligable for working tax credits you where eligable for free school meals?

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