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Please sign gov petition in support of working parents

(18 Posts)
Bosmum11 Sat 06-Aug-11 21:48:52

If one parent is a higher rate taxpayer, child benefit is lost. If both parents earn just under the higher threshold, they keep the benefit. Yet again, the families being hit are hard working middle earners. Please sign the online petition:

epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/714

toniguy Sun 07-Aug-11 13:29:30

Hmm I don't have a problem with this actually. Obviously no one likes losing something they've got used to, but given there's a recession, this is one of the most sensible ways of saving.

A family where one parent is a higher tax payer are, by definition, going to be relatively well off. Not rolling in it, I agree, but better off than many. In families where one parent earns very well, allowing the luxury of the other parent not working, (which seems to be the profile of the group most up in arms about child benefit) then I have even less sympathy tbh.

To my mind the people you describe as getting to keep child benefit - ie both parents working but earning just under the threshold - are exactly the most deserving. They will already be paying shed loads of their taxed income on childcare, plus all the commuting and other costs that go with having two workers in the family. You simply cannot compare a family with only one adult working with a family with both working- you aren't comparing like with like. I think the hardest hit in this country are families where both parents have to work, because they cant afford the luxury of a SAHP, and earn just too much to get any tax credits or help with childcare. I cant find as much sympathy for families where father (its usually father) earns big bucks and mother stays home and is now losing the perk of CB. Sure, it's nice as an extra, but the country cant afford it any more

Politixmum Sun 07-Aug-11 16:04:29

Toniguy I know where you are coming from, however think you are mistaken. My DP earns just over the threshold and I am struggling along on bits and pieces, keeping my career going while I try to get into a permanent job. The rise in food costs has hit us hard over the last couple of months, plus the loss of our child benefit and we are waiting anxiously to see what the rising fuel prices do to us.
We do not have the luxury of one parent earning well, but the necessity of struggling while I try to get into work. Treating our joint income as a whole instead of his income as the main earner made much more sense for us. I feel like I am being told I just earn pin money, even though my income pays for our food - as well as travel, work clothes, etc for me.
Secondly, changing child benefit from a universal to a means-tested benefit was, I thought, wrong. I believe there are important social ties created by universal benefits.
I'll sign the petition! smile

EdithWeston Sun 07-Aug-11 16:22:01

Agree strongly! £40k plus £40k is a hell of a lot more than £47k!

Or in my case £47k plus £14k. Not all those caught out by this nasty little unfairness have a SAHP.

toniguy Sun 07-Aug-11 16:34:26

With any changes, there will always be some people who are on the 'cusp' who will feel it's unfair, and it sounds as though you're in that situation , polotixmum , and I can see that in your situation you're going to struggle. Having said that, rising fuel and food bills are affecting us all, whether we have children or not.

I think the rub, for 'me, is that you just can't compare one adult working with both adults working- you're just not comparing like with like. The petition mentions higher tax payers who have a partner staying at home. In those situations, there is at least the potential for the other adult to work. With one parent being a higher tax payer, childcare should be affordable with one child. In bigger families, there is the option of the second parent doing evening/weekend work if childcare bills are a problem. Whereas in families where both parents work , and neither is a HR tax payer, they are already both employed and spending a good deal of their taxed income on childcare already. There isn't the luxury of a non working parent to do some extra hours in the evenings to make up the loss of child benefit.

If there was an endless money tree- great, keep CB as a universal benefit. Seeing as there isn't, I would far rather see families with both parents already working but not on great incomes, being protected, rather than families who are already in the relatively advantageous position of having a HR tax payer and a SAHP. I have no personal axe to grind here btw- we both work but pay HR tax so will lose CB. I'll miss it, but I can see that working parents on lower incomes need it more

EdithWeston Sun 07-Aug-11 16:38:59

If there was a simple change to assess eligibility based on total household income, then it would be much fairer.

As I pointed out above - there is no SAHP in our household, but we still stand to lose, whereas a similar two income family can earn more but keep the benefit. This isn't a cusp issue. It's a totally flawed concept of administration that gives more to some better off households.

toniguy Sun 07-Aug-11 17:14:50

It certainly encourages families to earn a more balanced income than to have one high earner and one at home/working very part time/earning very small income.

But I think in Many ways thats a positive thing, and a better reflection of society as it is now. To look at household income as a whole assumes an outdated model where father works and earns big bucks and mother stays at home or earns pin money. The reality these days is that women can have the same or very similar earning potential. Also, in almost every family I know where there is a big disparity between the parental incomes like yours, edith, its because the wife works part time, or has deliberately made a life choice to not earn at their potential- eg I have a graduate friend who works part time in a bookshop; she earns peanuts but has a lovely low stress job. I'm not saying that's the case for you edith- just that it generally seems to be true where there is a big differential in incomes. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with working part time, or working in a lower paid job because it's lower stress, my point is that this leaves the potential for hours to be upped and earnings increased. Whereas a couple already working to their full potential but still under the HR threshold are more deserving imo

EdithWeston Sun 07-Aug-11 17:23:17

Actually, the disparity is caused by redundancy.

We hope one day to get another job at previous earnings. in the meantime, we do what we can.

I wouldn't mind being over threshold and losing CB if it was a household threshold (well, I probably would mind, but I wouldn't see it as unfair). But to keep an entitlement for higher earning couples is just wrong.

toniguy Sun 07-Aug-11 17:43:05

Ok, edith- in your case, you both work full time but have been hit by redundancy (which everyone is vulnerable to) so understandably you feel aggrieved to be losing CB.

But if you're proposing looking at household income as a whole, how do you square it in situations like my friends? She earns probably less than 14k with her bookshop job, and she has the luxury of doing that because her husband earns about 50k. If losing CB pushes them to the edge, then frankly ,she'd be the first to admit she could earn more. She has a teaching qualification for heavens sake! She could probably earn more a couple of days a week teaching than full time in the bookshop- but she'd find it harder work and more stress so she chooses not to. And while she is free to make this lifestyle choice she does, I don't honestly think paying her CB is morally right when the country is having to make cuts in welfare. Ditto for SAHP with HR paying partners. The cuts have to come from somewhere, and I would far rather see parents who are both working as hard as they can but still under the threshold being protected.

EdithWeston Sun 07-Aug-11 17:57:21

I never said that at our combined income we should necessarily keep CB (though I would like to see it remain universal). I am saying that, if we lose it, a family who earns half as much again should not get it either.

Many of us "work as hard as we can", but I'd prefer to see cash laid out on the basis of something definite - like the actual household income - not subjective judgements about theoretic earning power.

toniguy Sun 07-Aug-11 18:18:41

But can you not see the problem, if actual household income is used as the measure, that you are paying out to people who may be working part time, or not at all, as a lifestyle choice? If every parent in the land were working full time to maximum potential, then sure, means testing is a fair way of determining the more needy families. But while you have some families where both parents work, some where only one works, some working part time... How can you make a blanket judgement?

To put it simply: a family where both parents work and earn, say 30k each, have a larger total income than a family where father earns 47k and mum stays at home. But the dual worker family are likely to have vastly higher costs : childcare for starters, which with a couple of kids can easily wipe out that extra 13k gross they bring in. Plus two commutes, two people needing work clothes .....

Plus to return to my original point, if the loss of CB pushes the 47k family to the brink, they at Least have one other adult with earning potential, even if that means taking on evening or weekend work. The couple on 30k each are already working full time, so don't have this potential.

EdithWeston Sun 07-Aug-11 18:37:22

No, I don't "see the problem".

We are talking about families with a household income of £80k+ continuing to be eligible for a benefit to be denied to "too wealthy" families on far lower income, on the basis of subjective judgements on earning capacity. You do not seem able to see the problem with the basic unfairness of this.

We shall clearly have no meeting of minds.

pointythings Sun 07-Aug-11 19:00:44

EdithWeston I'm with you - I just don't see why this can't be done on household income. It seems utterly stupid that a couple on almost £80k gets to keep CB whilst a couple who earn £50k between them with one low-earning partner should lose it. It's bonkers, bonkers, bonkers. HMRC has the tax records, why can't they use them?

And I say this as a member of a family who has never received CB due to DH being American and working for the US forces as a civilian - them's the rules, and we get our council tax paid and tax free petrol as a perk so that seems pretty fair.

toniguy Sun 07-Aug-11 19:08:03

You Canr see the issue where the couple who On a combined income of 50k where one partner is low earning because they choose to work only a couple of days a week,say? Because in very many cases , indeed the vast majority I would say, where there is this huge disparity in income, is because one parent is choosing not to work or to only work very part time. Thats fine, if it's a choice they can afford. It doesn't mean they should be entitled to a benefit. And childcare costs are nil with a SAHP, and much lower if one parent works part time. The child care costs alone in families with two full time working parents more than wipes out their child benefit!!

toniguy Sun 07-Aug-11 19:08:59

can't see that should be

Politixmum Sun 07-Aug-11 22:11:36

toniguy I think you are trying to find a logical way to share scarce finances in a time of austerity. However Edith has a good point, why is it fairer for a family/household with an income of £80K to get CB but not one of about £60K. Also you assume there is a choice being made for people like me to work part-time and so need less money for childcare. CB is not for childcare - there is separate tax relief for this, but for food, school uniform, etc. I think that sadly there are a lot of people like me who are struggling to give our kids a bit of tlc while trying to get into or stay in employment, and who are getting squeezed by having fiancial support stripped from us in a time of rising household costs.

Portofino Sun 07-Aug-11 22:14:27

I am TOTALLY with Edith on this. The new system is a farce.

Portofino Sun 07-Aug-11 22:17:40

And toniguy, remember that not everyone needs lots of childcare. Child benefit is claimable whilst the dcs are in ft education. You could have a teenagers, who eat adult portions of food, and cost fortunes to clothe.

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