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Lone parent returning to work ... lots of questions. Can you help please?

(7 Posts)
GoingToCalifornia Tue 09-Dec-14 17:54:36

I'm being interviewed this week for a job which is offering very flexible school hours.
At this point I don't know which days/hours they will offer.

I have been out of work for 7 years since raising my children alone.
The youngest started school last year and the other is in Year 3 juniors. Both schools have excellent breakfast/afterschool clubs starting from 8am and finishing at 6pm so childcare is available.

But from what I've read, in order to retain Child Tax Credit and a small amount of housing benefit, I should only work 16 hours a week. Their totally absent father contributes the minimum £2.50 a week per child (whilst he pretends not to be working cash in hand), so I receive JobSeekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit.

I had a Jobcentre lone parent advisor for a while but whilst she could do 'back to work' calculation for me, it wasn't useful as it didn't take into account childcare costs and it didn't know how much if any housing benefit help I'd still get, or if Working Tax Credit was applicable, or anything, basically other than juxtaposing how much take home (before tax, again not useful without knowing how much tax is took off) a full time minimum wage job compared to staying on benefits. I would be £19.50 a week better off in a full time job, however, it didn't take into account the above, so ...

If my employer doesn't offer government childcare vouchers, how on earth will I afford £73.50 a week childcare?

Would I still get bank holidays off if only part time?

Which days would be best to work?

I have also asked in CAB but I was seen first by what looked to be a18 year old and later by someone else, but both of them just looked up answers on their intranet and still couldn't tell me anything definite. I'm beginning to think I'm just supposed to jump in at the deep end, stop my benefits totally, then hope there's enough to pay the rent, bills and food when my first wage comes in (they pay weekly).

I haven't had a weekly wage since I was very young. Should I be worried about this? If they pay weekly fifties that mean it's an unusual kind of contract?

This is all assuming I get the job, but it's probably a given unless I turn up to interview with two heads, as they have a high staff turnover, minimum wage, and the nature of the job is highly stressful. I've worked in this environment before and my experience is that a company this flexible on working hours are desperate to hang onto staff so they offer such attractive bait.

I am absolutely terrified of childcare costs and how I'll cover them (in 10 days time the kids are off school for two weeks. So if they offer me a job this week, I'll have to cover that childcare cost before I even have my first week's wages..)
I'm also concerned at the inevitable amount of time taken off work when my children will be poorly. How would I afford to live when I have to regularly take off a day here or a week there for their sickness??

Are you entitled to sick pay when part time?

There just isn't anywhere online I've found that can properly answer these very basic questions that all lone parents trying to get back into work will have. Nowhere. Not Gingerbread, government websites, Mumsnet, other forums, CAB,...

Has anyone been my situation, or could kindly take a little while of their time to help answer some of my questions? I know it's just a forum, but these are significant questions that will change my life and you would be genuinely helping someone more than you can know flowers

I'm probably going to put this on Chat board too for the traffic and Lone Parents board too.

holeinmyheart Tue 09-Dec-14 23:06:08

Please don't go back to work as your DCs need you. Your children are still young and inevitably will be ill at some point. You will then be torn to bits as to what to do.
No employer will be very happy about you being off work.
I can't help you with the question you have posed but I feel very strongly that you should stay at home until your. DCs are older, and could stay at home unattended, when they are ill.
You will miss Sports Days and you will be tired from working all day. As a single parent they only have you to support them. They need you to be fit and healthy.
You don't sound very sure about going back to work anyway, to what sounds like a miserable poorly paid job.
Why don't you use the time, until they get older to think about getting qualifications , all the basic qualifications ( Maths and English ) are free at Colleges, so that you can move on to something better.

Or choose a career where you could choose your own hours, such as becoming a Counsellor or doing Nails, Personal Fitness Instructor, etc or being a Child Minder yourself. Fostering an Older Child temporarily is also very well paid.
While you work in this low paid job you can't be improving your chances of getting a better job in the future.
You sound an amazing person.
Please Stay at home as you are already doing an important job. Looking after your DC. Xx

Babyroobs Thu 11-Dec-14 16:47:02

I don't think op has the choice to wait until her kids are older before returning to work. Lone parents are now required to look for work when their youngest reaches 5 and have to switch to JSA.
Op if you are a lone parent working in a minimal wage job you will most likely get 70% of your childcare costs paid. You can use one of the benefit calculaters such as Turn2Us to work out what help you would get. You don't need to stick to 16 hours, especially since your kids are school aged, but some lone parents find that they can get maximum benefits working 16 hours and that working more than that means they lose benefits elsewhere.If you can average 16 hours a week you will be eligible for working tax credits as well as child tax credits which will boost your income significantly and should make you better off working. You should still get help with Housing benefit. I'm sorry I'm not sure what you do about paying out for childcare before your first pay comes through, but possibly some kind of budgeting lone might be available to you, check at the Job centre. Good luck with the job.

greeneggsandjam Mon 15-Dec-14 20:07:27

Did you go for the interview and get the job? I would absolutely have gone for it and taken it. I cant believe someone is suggesting you stay at home to look after your children. The job could open up so many possibilities for you and you can still look after your children well if the hours are flexible!

girliefriend Mon 15-Dec-14 20:15:55

How many hours is the job?

Can't believe the first piece of advice you had was not to go back to work because your dc need you shock angry flipping heck - I have read some outrageous stuff on mn over the years but that really does take the biscuit

I am a single mum and I work 22.5 hours a week, I get working tax credit and child tax credit, childcare as long as it is OFSTED reg will be taken into account. I think it is about 70% paid for.

It is perfectly possible to work and still be very much there for your children.

funkypigeon Mon 15-Dec-14 20:18:27

Have you tried www.entitledto.com? Very good website where you enter all your details in and see what you can get. Working tax credit can pay up to 70% of childcare costs as far as I know.

mindifidont Sat 27-Dec-14 09:48:12

You will most likely get both housing benefit and tax credits to help pay for childcare.

I'm not sure if the rules have changed but a few years ago when both me and my husband were working full time on near minimum wage we got help with big housing and childcare.

It was tough but we are in a much better position now the kids are older than we would have been had we not gone through those tough years.

Don't take the first persons advice of not taking the job, especially not if both are at school now.

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