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Separated with 2 kids advice on housing needed(28 Posts)
I'm recently separated from my husband and am currently on maternity leave. I have 2 children under 5 and having worked out my finances after bills am left with £38 per week for us to live on. That's doesn't include food shopping/clothes etc.
I have applied for tax credits and have had the news today that I am not eligible for any due to my wages being over the threshold even though I have taken a massive drop they work it out over the year and have advised that I can reapply in April but will not be awarded much.
The only choice I can see i have is to try to get council or housing association housing as there is no way I can afford to stay where I am.
My question is, will I be likely to get council housing while I am living in the rented house or would I stand more chance leaving and staying at my parents for a while then apply? I'm not trying to cheat the system I genuinely cannot afford to stay where I am but also dont want to take the risk that I would end up being at my parents for ages as it wouldn't be fair on them. I would be grateful for any advice thanks.
Firstly, regarding Tax Credits, they are calculated based on income for the previous tax year, but if your income is significantly different (which it is due to maternity leave) then you can ask them to calculate based on your current circumstances and estimated income for this tax year.
Secondly, if you're renting at the moment, you're likely to be eligible for housing benefit - have you applied for it? If not you should apply ASAP, through your local council. Usually you have to apply online on their website. You should apply for Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called Council Tax Support) at the same time.
Thirdly, you will probably be eligible to apply for social housing (council or housing association) and you should contact or visit your local council to apply. Bear in mind that if you're already "adequately housed" you won't be very high priority.
I don't recommend moving in with your parents because you wouldn't have any legal right to stay there if it didn't work out, and the council could argue that you'd made yourself intentionally homeless by giving up your own tenancy.
I suggest you visit/contact your local Citizens Advice - take your Tax Credit letters, payslips and rent information with you - and they will be able to calculate your benefit entitlement, check the tax credit decision was correct and help you challenge it if it wasn't, and advise on your housing options.
Thanks for the advice, I have applied for housing benefit but after the conversation I had with the person from tax credits on the phone I got the impression I just won't be eligible for anything benefits wise but I will have my fingers crossed as if I could find a way I would like to stay where I am. I will calculate what my earnings are likely to be next tax year and get advice from Cab then as after maternity leave I will be unable to return to full time work due to childcare costs but will be part time.
Tax credits and housing benefit are worked out differently - tax credits are done by tax year but housing benefit is done by current income. So I think you're likely to get some HB. You could use an online benefits calculator like www.entitledto.co.uk if you want to check.
If and when you go back to work, you are likely to be entitled to help with childcare costs as long as you work more than 16 hours per week. It all depends on your income but you're likely to get Working Tax Credits, including the childcare element, as well as Child Tax Credits.
Have you included maintenance from your XH in your calculations? How many hours per week are you now working and what will your pre tax salary be?
I have included child maintenance in my calculations. I am receiving around 1700 before tax which sounds decent but after rent, bills and loan there is hardly anything left. I just don't kniw how I can manage without reducing the rent, the house I am in at the moment in the area I need to be for school/family/ work etc is small I won't find anything cheaper privately. I have already given up my car to reduce bills and it still works out at £38 a week left over.I really need cheaper housing asap, I have looked at all the bills and cannot bring them lower the only saving I can make is on housing.
there is a huge shortage of council/ LA housing in many parts of the UK. No guarantee that being at your parents would speed things up- you would need to say that they are not allowing you to stay. You would then present as homeless and would be placed in temporary accommodation until you moved up the housing list to get a council house. Shelter offer an advice line- I would start with them.
I don't think on 1700 as a lone parent you would be entitled to much, beyond help with childcare costs. Sorry.
Also look at your local housing associations- many now have 'mid market rent' properties, in Edinburgh for example a three bed is approx £600 a month
Do you have high rent or childcare bills as £1700 is quite a decent income.
1700 is quite a lot of income per month. Your rent must be extortionate.
Could you give us a breakdown of your bilss etc. Maybe we could help with cost cutting.
is the 1700 including the maintenance?
what is the income after tax and including maintenance?
when are you due to return to work and what will your income be then?
agree breakdown would be useful
Take home pay is £1300
Credit card 50
Council tax 70
Phoneline and Internet £60
Gas and electric 60
Union (no choice to be part of this) £16
Child's dinner money £22
Car insurance which I can't get out of til
Dvla £20 approx
Overdraft fees £20 approx
Water bill £35
TV licence £35 quarterly
Ex is giving me £70 a week but that includes his half of debts aswell as child maintenance. It's not enough but you would think he's giving me the world.
I currently receive child benefit for eldest child and have put my claim in for the second. I have done this off the top of my head but I think I've remembered everything! I think I have cut back as much as possible, recently switched energy suppliers and don't have a mobile phone but any ideas on reducing my outgoings would be welcome!
You're spending £430/month on loan, credit card and overdraft fees. That's your issue right there.
Visit/call Citizens Advice and ask for a debt appointment. Or call one of the debt charities like National Debtline, Payplan or Stepchange.
You need a plan to clear your debts but still make ends meet in the meantime.
Also landline and Internet should not be costing £60/month. I suggest shopping around for a better deal - MoneySavingExpert is always great for that.
Oh and to answer the question about going back to work I will probably take home around the same amount as my maternity pay as will need to reduce my hours, so around £1300 take home. I couldn't even go back to work early if I wanted to due to childcare and the fact that I will not be able to go full time so would not be any difference in the pay at work or on maternity. I'd hate to leave my baby early too but I am in a pretty desperate situation
Thank you I will seek advice on the debt then, I was worried about going down that route but I suppose I'm never gonna be in a position to need a great credit score for anything at least for a long time.
Agree about step change op, I was in a pretty desperate situation and was robbing Peter to pay Paul, rang them and after around an hour on the phone it was all sorted, we agreed a reasonable figure ( way less than what I was paying so around £500 pm to £90 pm ) and they contact all creditors and deal with them directly in case you're worried about threatening letters etc.
The utter relief I felt was unreal. They are a government charity and are there simply to help you, I couldn't recommend them enough.
If you do go down this route you will have much more available money and I know it's not ideal in the long term but in the short term it will take a lot of stress off you and give you and your dc a much better starting point.
I know this sounds like the easy option and it took me a while to contact them as I was ashamed but I'm so glad I did.
Very best of luck op
Go bankrupt to clear the debt.
You don't have assets so nothing to lose.
You wil get tax credits to cover childcare costs so will probably be better off working full time if only one under 5.
Thank you for sharing zoflora I am going to call them in the morning. Not that I have much choice but are you penalised for it? For a certain amount of years are you unable to apply for things? And does your credit score go right down? I can't afford to be too worried about these things but just out of interest. It would be a relief to bring that right down, I didn't think there was much I could do about it.
I have been checking my credit score and as far as I can see it has not affected my number as regular payments are made and are on time so no defaults which do flag up when applying for things.
So on reflection it does demonstrate that you do pay your debts, albeit a small amount off them ( stepchange distribute the amount to your creditors based on several factors ) and I'm not sure of your banking situation but they can also take on overdrafts and you would then open a pretty standard/basic account elsewhere.
I didn't need this option but it was offered to me and you are sent a folder with tons of help and information as well as your personalised action plan.
I'm pretty sure the only stipulation is that the total debt is over 5k.
Do not go bankrupt as bee suggested.
You need professional debt advice, and (as someone with debt advice training) bankruptcy is unlikely to be the best option for you.
Not sure if you know this but for tax credits claims they disregard the first £100 a week of your salary.
Calculate how much you expect to warm by the end of the financial year, deduct the£100 for each week you've been on maternity leave and call and ask them to reasses. You may be entitled to something for a short while.
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