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Advice on benefits/housing(20 Posts)
Hi everyone, I've never posted here before, but reading through some of the posts I can see this is definitely the place to get some great advice.
Cutting a very long story short, I am due to start IVF soon, originally it was meant to be with my partner, but sadly at the 11th hour he felt he couldn't go through with it. Because I'm almost 42, I have decided to soldier on by myself and I am going to be using a sperm donor, which means I will be moving out on my own to raise the child by myself.
I live in London, have done for 19 years, and I'm originally from New Zealand, so I have no family here to help me. During my time in London I have lived in privately rented homes. I currently work as a nanny.
I'm trying to gather as much info and understanding as I can, to help me feel confident in my decision and I wanted some advice on benefits and housing. I have no experience with any of this, so I feel a bit overwhelmed and afraid as to whether I can live okay with government help.
I would really appreciate some help with the following:
How much would I receive per month in benefits as a single mother with a child?
If I did work, how much can I earn before the benefits are lowered or cut?
I assume I would qualify for housing, and I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but having had no experience with any of this, I am frightened about what sort of housing I would be put in. I want to feel comfortable and safe in my home. If I am offered a place and it doesn't feel right, and I turn it down, do I get pushed to the bottom of the list?
Do I have to pick something in the borough I live in, or am would I be shown properties in different boroughs too?
At what stage would I qualify moving into housing (if I qualify!), once baby is born, or when I would be pregnant?
Would all of my rent be covered?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! Any info or extra advice will be greatly appreciated!
I would call the gingerbread charity helpline (link included to website). They will be able to offer advice on those questions x
For benefit advice I would look at the turn2 is website. This will give you an idea of what is available. I am not sure if your nationality would make a difference to access universal credits. Living in London you are going to struggle to be housed by the council. Accommodation is very much in demand. With waiting lists being years long.
I hope it all comes together for you and wish you lots of luck.
What is your immigration status? As you've been living in the UK for 19 years, hopefully you have permanent residence or British citizenship? Your entitlement to benefits will depend on this.
How much do you expect/hope to have in savings after completing IVF? I guess there will be a best/worst case scenario depending on how many rounds of IVF you need?
You say you work as a nanny; presumably you would be entitled to maternity pay from your employer? Apart from this, the two benefits you could claim after having a child (assuming your immigration status makes you eligible) are Child Benefit (£21.05/week) and Universal Credit. There is no way we can tell you whether you'd get UC, and if so how much, without more information. These are the main points to consider:
- Savings: anything under £6k is ignored, above £16k and you wouldn't get UC at all, and savings between those figures will affect the UC calculation.
- Rent: if you're in private rented housing, the amount of rent covered by UC will be capped at the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). Before baby's birth you'd get the rate for a 1 bedroom property and after baby's born you'd get the rate for a 2 bedroom property. LHA rates are usually lower than market rates although they were increased recently due to CV19 - probably temporarily.
- Deductions for income (both maternity pay and wages once you return to work): as a single parent claiming housing element, you can earn £292/month without anything being deducted from your UC. Anything above this will reduce your UC; they deduct 63% of earnings over £292/month. (For example, let's say you earn £1000, they ignore £292 and count £708, they will deduct 63% of that from your UC, which is £446.)
You might want to play around with some benefit calculations which you can do online using Entitledto or Turn2Us. If you get stuck or confused I suggest you contact your local Citizens Advice and ask them to do the benefit calculation for you.
Regarding housing, I advise you to adjust your expectations which are not realistic. The demand for social housing in London is huge and far outstrips supply. The waiting lists are long and the quality and choice will most probably be limited. Your best bet is to contact your local council's housing advice team, they will be able to advise about the possibility of applying for social housing and if it's not a realistic option (which is my prediction) they might be able to advise on private housing options. My local council (not London) can advise people about private rented housing, can even provide help with deposits if needed, and sometimes a "top up" of benefits to help with the cost (in very limited circumstances).
If I had to predict I'd say it will be doable but tough as a single parent on a tight budget in London.
Would you consider moving somewhere more affordable?
Thank you for your helpful advice. Thankfully I’m a UK citizen, but it does sound like London housing is going to be an issue. I will look into this. Thanks again
Thank you so much for your very detailed message. It was super helpful!
I am a UK citizen thankfully. I wouldn’t move out of London, as an expat all of my friends (also mostly expats) are based in London. I would move back to NZ before moving out of London.
I’m a zero hours emergency nanny so no official employer for maternity pay.
I will have savings as the ivf has already been paid for with three transfers, so unless it isn’t successful within those tries then I don’t have to worry about that. My savings will likely be around £10k here in U.K.
I really appreciate how much detail you’ve given me and I will go through everything you’ve said and start to research my options - I want to be fully informed of my future reality rather than blindly stumbling into a potential mess.
@unicornsarereal72 thank you for your wishes. I’m a uk citizen thankfully, but appreciate the insight into the potential housing difficulties, I will research this further. Thank you
About maternity pay - if you're an agency worker, you might still be entitled to SMP (depending on dates of employment and average pay). If you can't get SMP you might be able to get Maternity Allowance instead.
These are treated differently when it comes to UC; SMP is treated as earnings (so not all of it is deducted) whereas MA is treated as other income and is deducted pound for pound.
I would move back to NZ before moving out of London. I would do that, especially with the Covid19 situation.
@ToothFairyNemesis nz has definitely got things sorted when it comes to Covid! They were amazing at locking down
@AnotherEmma thank you!! You’ve been super helpful with so much info!
Have a lovely weekend xxx
@PixieB26 wonderful pm true leadership skills.
So you will be entitled to Universal credit after baby,
Social housing in London is highly unlikely, you probably won’t be offered anything especially if you decline.
But your UC would be as follows PCM.
409.89 for you
235.83 for baby
Plus whatever your local housing allowance rate for a 2 bed for your borough is. (You can find this on your borough council website)
The first £292 of your wages will not be counted and everything after that will reduce your UC By 63p for each pound you earn.
You can also claim up to 85% of your childcare costs a month up to £684 a month Once you return to work.
Whoops @AnotherEmma has given a much more detailed version of what I said!
Ah but you mentioned childcare costs which I had forgotten!
@Boomclaps thank you so much, that is all super helpful!!
When renting, things like water and electricity bills, are they expected to be paid out of the £409 received? I struggle to get my head around how it’s possible to make ends meet each month, it’s really eye opening.
So my local water company has a special tariff for people on benefits, we also get warm home discount, which is just shy of 150 a year off gas/electric.
We also qualify for a reduction in C.tax
However I will have to go back to work when baby is 5/6 months old as otherwise we just can’t make ends meet.
@Boomclaps okay that’s good to know. I’ve researched the LHA rate for my area and surrounding boroughs and that looks to be okay so that’s a relief but will obviously have to make sure I qualify.
I would want to work at least part time at some stage too, good for the mind and less financial worry.
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