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Full-time work and housing benefit - HELP

(2 Posts)
jennyandfelix Sat 18-Feb-17 10:14:41

I recently went from working 21 hours to working 35. In doing so I moved my 2 year old son from nursery placement 3 days a week to 5 days. I used the benefit calculators on turn2us and also the one which is linked to directly from the HMRC website in order to work out how going (almost) full time would affect me financially.

I receive housing benefit, child tax credits, working tax credits and child benefit. He is not eligible for the 16 hours free childcare until the age of three. I rent privately and the price I pay is well below the current market; I have a really good deal on my place.

The changes went through with HMRC fine, although they removed child tax credit until the new financial year as my yearly income is now over the original estimation for the year. That was okay, I would be cutting it close until April but I could do it with some extra frugal living.

However, the housing benefit situation is really bad. My nursery fees are £271.25/weekly and the benefit summary award only applied £175/weekly to my expenses. At first I thought this was a mistake (none of the online benefit calculators took that cap into account) but having read up it looks like the council haven't made an error and that is correct.

The decision leaves me with £20 a month after I pay rent, nursery, council tax and utilities. The online calculators suggested that I would be entitled to about £250 monthly in housing benefit. It would have been tight but no tighter than when I was working part-time.

The crazy thing is that if I go back to part-time hours, I will end up receiving about £450 monthly rather than the £250 monthly I thought I was going to receive in housing benefit.

Two points to note: the nursery fees I pay are typical for my area and I would really struggle to find anything cheaper. There is nothing near me or near my work which would leave me any better off. Otherwise, I really want to work full-time as when I was part-time I felt useless and unappreciated at work - I could never get anything completed and constantly felt behind. Moving to full-time hours has been really positive and I am upset that the obvious solution is to move backward in my career and go part-time.

Has anyone else been through this experience? Any advice greatly appreciated.

Becca19962014 Sat 18-Feb-17 21:15:10

Just a thought is it to do with the removal of the child tax credit which enabled a higher rate if housing benefit? i suggest retrying the online calculators removing the child tax credit. It could also be you only get housing benefit for the rooms you need which is capped to the lowest third for your county.

I know the online calculators gave me wrong information when my hours changed because they assumed what I claimed (it assumed I had disability working tax credit and didn't so I didn't get help with housing). Is not the same situation as yours but it's worth considering and looking into.

Changing hours and the decisions that come with it are a nightmare.

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