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Child tax credits ending before daughter finishes A Levels

(26 Posts)
thingumagig Mon 24-Mar-14 19:44:24

I work as a Teaching Assistant and take home £800pm. (I re-trained in 2004 to teach adults (double the income) but the government took away the funding for the courses so it's become impossible to find work tutoring now). I receive tax credits which will be reduced from £450pm to £75pm this December. Because my daughter has been ill she had to re-start her A Levels after a year and is doing them over another 3 years. She doesn't finish until summer 2015. I only receive £20pm intermittently from her father. I am desperately worried. My age is against me to re-train again. I have a mortgage and expenses connected to my daughter's health problem. I take foreign students when I can get them. Can anyone advise me please?

dancemom Mon 24-Mar-14 19:47:44

How old is your daughter?

KatAndKit Mon 24-Mar-14 19:50:38

Unfortunately once she is 19 I don't think you can claim any benefits for your daughter. Seems unfair in your situation but I doubt there is a solution. She should see if she will be able to receive any money in her own name as an adult and contribute it to you as rent.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 24-Mar-14 19:53:05

Op.

I thought that tax credits were paid whilst they were working towards a level 3. Have they changed this? I know my ds1 was paid for 3 years and it worked out he was 20 when it stopped. He too did one year of A levels and then switched to a Btec for 3 years. He was youngest in class August baby, so somebody else doing the same could have been 21.
Can you double check this, because you may have been given wrong info.
As far as work is concerned, have you tried the local colleges for supply cover. Or offering private tuition in other peoples homes.
I know it may take a while to become established but might help a bit, if you could get a few students.
You could also try the agencies either for teaching cover or support working.
I'm sorry, but can't think what else to suggest.
Really sorry you are having to cope with all this thanks and a big hug.

NurseyWursey Mon 24-Mar-14 19:56:04

Hi OP

Unfortunately you can't continue to claim for them, she's an adult now. Could you perhaps look into what she may be entitled to? My brother claimed something akin to a 'hardship fund' when he was at college, she could give you some money then. Could she perhaps get a part time job? I'd get her to speak to the job centre if you can

Sorry you're struggling, I hope you find something to help you cope thanks

thingumagig Mon 24-Mar-14 20:35:56

Gosh what a fast response from you all. Thank you so much. She is nineteen, twenty in January and the HMRC say they only pay up to a month before someone is twenty, no matter that they are still at school. I will definitely research if there's any help she can get in her own name, though I've always assumed that as she lives at home I will be expected to support her. She's still not 100%, although so much better than she has been for three years and I fear a relapse if she takes on too much by working as well as doing her A Levels. It's her last chance to get them and so get to University. Also jobs are far and few between here. I have asked her to look for something for the summer holiday though.
The local college is using their lecturers to deliver the courses tutors would have delivered previously and have made most of the tutors redundant. There's no cover work locally for tutors. One job did come up at Learndirect a few months ago and apparently I came a close second. I'm going to go there at Easter for some work experience as I'm so rusty after ten years, in the hope that another post may come up. Thank you all again for the advice and the hugs smile

motorbikedreams Tue 25-Mar-14 01:29:07

What sort of illness was she affected by and does she get DLA for it? Students in FE can get ESA in their own right if they are disabled, my DS gets it as he has MH issues. He gets DLA, I think you have to be on DLA first to be able to get ESA as it's not usually available for f/t students. If she has care and/or mobility needs she may be eligible for DLA (although it would be PIP now she is over 16 and there is a huge backlog in processing claims). More info.

If she doesn't meet the requirements of ESA she might be able to claim JSA if the course is considered p/t, but the DWP are quite strict these days on anyone doing any form of study.

thingumagig Tue 25-Mar-14 05:21:28

She became ill around the time my mother died, 2 1/2 years ago. The doctors thought it may have been a reaction to her death as apparently the body can react in all sorts of ways. After a couple of years the hospital's conclusion was ME or CFS but we have struggled to keep this off her record as it can affect a person's chances of getting a job/mortgage etc (I suppose because it can be so severe that some people cannot get out of bed for months or even years at a time but also because there is a high suicide rate apparently). She doesn't need care (well, she has me) but she has to pace herself and fatigue is the most obvious symptom. She also has polycystic ovaries which also causes fatigue. She used to be such a lively, energetic child, but cannot even have sleep-overs with friends as she won't make it past about 9pm (and sometimes a lot earlier). Food shopping is very expensive as she is wheat intolerant (IBS). What do ESA, MH, JSA and PIP stand for please? I've just followed your link and will read and digest all the information - thank you for that. Having my daughter registered disabled at this stage of her illness would probably not help us with the current crisis and may be difficult to do as she is, hopefully, near recovery with respect to the ME/CFS. She needs to be able to finish her A levels, another year. I think the course is considered full-time. 16.5 hours a week in lessons and the rest is study time. Is that full-time?

Alwayscheerful Tue 25-Mar-14 07:29:22

OP. Just a thought. Can I ask, has your daughter been tested for vitamin D deficiency?

thingumagig Tue 25-Mar-14 17:06:53

No, I don't think so. She certainly doesn't get enough sun. Will the doctors do that if we ask them? She does take iron, cod liver oil with A & D vits, (200iu of D which says it's 100% RDA),B complex and zinc.

Alwayscheerful Tue 25-Mar-14 20:46:48

Vitamin d test is just a blood test, ask for it to be done at the Drs, if your dd is deficient the dr will probably prescribe 20,000 iu 3 times a week. It can take several months to raise her levels.

thingumagig Tue 25-Mar-14 21:13:57

Ok, thank you for that. I will.

thingumagig Tue 25-Mar-14 21:19:52

I have made an appointment with Citizen's Advice for two week's time. Maybe they will be able to find a way forward for me regarding the tax credits. I also talked to my Line Manager this morning (in tears unfortunately) and she gave me some useful info - some of my colleagues had some training recently about CFS. I've borrowed a DVD and they have offered to have a chat about what they have learned about it on a course they went on. So maybe there will be some useful info which will help on my daughter's road to recovery.
I just so need a job that pays a liveable wage sad

littlemisssarcastic Thu 27-Mar-14 19:07:29

Unfortunately AFAIK tax credits stop just before your child reaches 20 years old, irrespective of whether they have finished their course or not.
I guess they have to draw the line somewhere.
I have never heard of extenuating circumstances extending tax credit payments.
I am sorry to hear of your daughters health issues and think it might help you if your DD is eligible to claim ESA or PIP in her own right.

Be aware too that if you are in receipt of housing benefit, this will also be reduced once your child tax credits are stopped.

It is a huge struggle for many parents who rely on tax credits to support their children to suddenly find the tax credits abruptly stop a d yet feeding and providing for your child continues regardless.

If you find there is anything helpful in your situation, please share. I'm sure it would be of interest to a huge number of parents.

thingumagig Thu 27-Mar-14 19:49:10

Thank you littlemiss. It's not a fair world is it?! We really do want to avoid my daughter having ME or CFS on her record, for reasons previously stated. Wouldn't it be sad if she ended up having to, just because it was the only way to continue her education (she is academic and gets mainly A's and the odd B). She needs to break free from 2 generations of poverty (my grandparents were wealthy Scottish aristocrats believe or not) but my father lost everything and brought 5 children up (well, sort of, occasionally) in poverty. My wisdom was slow coming after the childhood I had, but knowing what I know now I am naturally keen to support my daughter to have a better life than me. It's such a competitive world out there and I know I cannot compete with many of friends who have been able to give their children a fantastic start in life and broaden their horizons all along the road, but I can do my best and registering her as disabled, when I feel that time and encouragement could go a long way towards a cure, seems a downward road.

BertieBotts Thu 27-Mar-14 20:00:03

She could look at doing an access course instead of A levels - it's faster, and I think less work in its own right - it's more getting you into the mindset of university work than a qualification in its own right.

Having ME or CFS on her medical records should not affect her chances of getting a job - as far as I know it is still not yet legal for an employer to insist on seeing an applicant's medical records (and hopefully, never will be!) and having something on paper now doesn't rule out being cured later, it just recognises that things are difficult and you may need extra support. In theory, anyway.

BertieBotts Thu 27-Mar-14 20:00:40

She doesn't have to tell an employer that she suffers from ME, is what I am saying.

MsPickle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:21:33

Hi, I don't know how it stands now but I had cfs at a similar age, I think at the time it was probably written up as post viral fatigue. It's never been mentioned since with mortgages etc, other things have affected critical illness/life insurance but they were mainly genetic.

Separate thought-have they done a liver function test? DH has Gilbert's which can often look like cfs but yellower ;). As long as he looks after himself (Ha ha, whole other thread!) he's fine. I'm now mid 30's and haven't had a bout of fatigue like it since my late teens. Knackered yes, fatigued no. The other thing that helped me was passiflora, marketed as naturekalm and similar. It just seemed to mean that my sleep was actually refreshing IYKWIM? Also pacing, look up spoon theory if she doesn't know that already, especially if she's heading to Uni!

You sound like you're doing your absolutely best for her and she sounds very lucky to have you. Good luck on the work front, stay positive and keep looking. Keep your cv on job boards as well, you never know who might be looking without advertising...

thingumagig Thu 27-Mar-14 20:25:08

Thank you BeriteBotts. I did a science access course about 19 years ago. Yes, they are excellent, I don't think you can do them once you've got A levels, or if you can I don't think you can get loans to pay for them (they used to be free, but now it's the same as doing a Uni course). I will check up on it all. But one important factor is that my daughter is so much better this year. We are hoping she can gain the grades she needs. (Today she's been out a field trip with college in the cold and rain and crawled into bed at about 7pm saying she couldn't make it to school tomorrow, but I'm hoping she'll have recovered after a good sleep). I know things could go downhill again, but I'm hopeful it's all been a nasty virus that's taken nearly 3 years to get over. I just need not to lose my tax credits at this point - she doesn't finish her A levels until summer 2015, tax credits finish December 2014. Is education only for those whose parents can afford it? Surely it should be for those who want it and are prepared to work for it.

littlemisssarcastic Thu 27-Mar-14 20:47:47

I see your point OP. I'm not sure there is ever a 'good' age to stop the tax credits tbh.
If they paid tax credits until your DD finished her course, you still have the added pressure of supporting your DD through university.
I know young people whose parents are under a certain income are eligible for a grant for university, but this is a reduced amount if the student lives at home.
Many students are ending up in a lot of debt to obtain a degree.
There is no easy answer I'm afraid.
Or perhaps there is an answer that I haven't considered.

thingumagig Thu 27-Mar-14 21:12:47

Yes. There is no longer free university. I heard on Radio 4 about a year ago that young people who's parents cannot afford to pay for them to go to university and have to borrow both the fees and enough money to live on for 3 years will have to pay back approx. £100,000 by the time they finish paying their loans if they are average earners e.g. teachers. My daughter needs top grades to get into our local university as I cannot give her the help she will need on top of her loans to live away from home and our local is a top uni. Which is good, but puts a lot of pressure on her.

Rockchick1984 Fri 28-Mar-14 09:11:25

Is your wage low enough that you can still claim working tax credits / housing benefit due to income rather than because you have a child? Although you would lose some of your benefits, it would mean you're still getting some help. Can you take on a second job? Unfortunately although I can appreciate your frustration, if you are unwilling for your daughter to claim the benefits which are designed to help in this sort of situation then there's a limit to what anyone can suggest. If you have 9 months until they stop, can you put some money aside each month now to supplement what you will be living on? Cut your outgoings so you can cope with lower income? Even take on a second job around the time they are due to stop?

thingumagig Fri 28-Mar-14 18:07:30

I take home £800 a month. The tax credits are going down to £75 a month. I have a mortgage and there is no help available for people with mortgages (I paid my endowment mortgage for 25 years without ever missing a single payment and was told it would pay my mortgage and give me a nest egg, but it didn't do either and I had to re-mortgage last year for another ten years). I leave home at 7.30 and return around 5. I am shattered when I get home as my job is mentally tiring and also the school is on three sites, so physically tiring as rushing between them all day. I have been trying for a few years now to find another job but I trained in 2008 to teach adults and there's no work now in that field due to government cut backs. I used to work in offices but cannot even get an office job now as my skills are so outdated (I have tried). As previously said; my daughter is so much better now - to start registering her as disabled at this stage would involve her having to 'pretend' to be as bad as she used to be which is not something that would do anyone any good. Because she was ill she has another year to go after this year to finish her A levels. I cannot cut my outgoings any more. As it is I go without any holidays, treats, hair appointments, makeup, evenings out (even work do's), my clothes come from charity shops. We live with a huge overdraft. I am a very capable and conscientious worker but there is an awful lot of competition out there and I live in a seaside resort where jobs are few and far apart. If I could afford to sell I would move nearer work. I just need a better paying job! I am going to do some work experience in the holidays. Sorry it's all so doom and gloom. Some of you have given me some ideas though and quite frankly, it's been a relief just to share my troubles, so thank you. I know there must be a way forward.

BertieBotts Fri 28-Mar-14 18:41:03

I was told I would get funding for an access course as I had only completed AS levels (I also had a BTEC National Certificate which is equivalent to about 1 or 2 full A levels, but not the full 4.) In actual fact I didn't need the access course as they accepted me as a mature student without it, but I was 22 at the time.

She could go and visit a careers advisor at your local college, or the college she studies at now, and ask.

thingumagig Fri 28-Mar-14 20:07:25

Thanks BertieBotts. There isn't funding any more apparently for the Access course (I tried to get into uni myself a couple of years ago and was told I would have to re-do my access course as it was more than 5 years old! That's when I learnt that they are no longer funded - you can borrow the fees, just like a degree course. My daughter is completing one of her A levels this year and the other two next year (and will have one AS).
So what did you do next? (I'm just curious!) And what was the access course in?

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