AIBU to think there must be more help for my friend than she is getting?

(42 Posts)
spongebobandpatrick Tue 05-Mar-13 17:40:40

I have asked my friend if it is okay for me to ask for advice on her behalf.

Basically, my friend is 50, single and living in a rented property. She has brought up 3 DC on her own.

She works very hard in a minimum wage job, and has worked for the same employer for the last 15 years. She works full time.

When the DC were young, she received child tax credit, working tax credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit. Her ex has never paid maintenance, although she has fought hard for it for years to no avail.

As each child left full time non advanced education, the 2 older children have been fortunate enough to find employment, and the youngest has just left full time non advanced education, and is looking for work.

When the older children were living at home, and were working, they contributed to the bills, but now they have left, and her youngest is not yet in work, my friend finds that she is only entitled to £1.50 a week of working tax credit.
She still receives housing benefit, so pays £81 per week towards her rent.

So she has net pay of £216 per week, gets £1.50 wtc and after paying her rent and council tax (pays council tax in full) is left with £111.50. Her travel costs to and from work are approxiametely £50 a week.

This leaves my friend with £61.50 to pay everything else with. She is completely dreading the new council tax bills due out shortly, as she gets no help at all with council tax.

Her youngest has just begun to claim JSA but has been told his claim will take 6 weeks to process, and it has only been 2 weeks since he submitted his claim.

When he gets JSA, he has offered to pay as much as he can, although my friend isn't sure how much to ask him for, since he will need some of the money he gets to help him look for work. He is happy to contribute I might add.

My friend lives in the back of beyond, no public transport (not much else either) so relies on her car to get to and from work.

Can she get any more financial help?

She is very proud, but is very desperate, and does not want to give up her job if at all possible.

She has already cut down on the majority of her outgoings, so her outgoings are her gas/electric - £80 a month, her water bill - £25 a month, mobile phone - £5 a month PAYG, (no landline because she can't afford it.), car insurance - £28 per month, car tax, MOT worked out monthly is - £21.25, then her luxuries as she calls them, her tv licence - £37.62 a quarter and her window cleaner - £6 every 4 weeks.

This leaves her with just over £20 a week for food. There is no money for repairs if anything goes wrong, and no money for replacing anything.

She is currently looking for a part time job to run alongside her full time job, but have any of you got any other advice.

She is getting quite down and is permanently exhausted. I think this is due to her circumstances partly. I explained that things would look better when her son got his JSA and then a job hopefully, but she is worried about when if he decides to leave home. She says there is no hope for her, and she will spend the rest of her days lining the pockets of the rich whilst barely scraping a living.

I can assure you she is usually upbeat and positive, but the grind of week in, week out poverty is understandably bringing her down. sad

Any advice?

HeySoulSister Tue 05-Mar-13 17:54:58

Why is her son on jsa? He's looking for work?

Lodger?

There's no more help but she could look for a better job or an extra part time job. The situation you describe is the same for everyone

Tryharder Tue 05-Mar-13 17:55:40

I think a lot of people are in her position and I know quite a few people with 2 jobs. The problem with a second job is that your entire extra income is swallowed by tax and it becomes hardly worth it.

Could she not try selling on eBay or a car boot sale? Or cleaning for cash. I know a lot of people on mumsnet hate the idea of someone working for cash and not declaring it but an extra £30 a week would perhaps ease life for her.

Footface Tue 05-Mar-13 17:57:10

Yes tax avasion is the way forward. Works for the very rich

HeySoulSister Tue 05-Mar-13 17:54:58
Why is her son on jsa? He's looking for work?

um, because that's what JOB SEEKER'S ALLOWANCE is for?

HeySoulSister Tue 05-Mar-13 18:13:07

Yes but it seems they are happy to just er, wait for it!! He could get a job anytime soon.

Cassarick Tue 05-Mar-13 18:16:09

Her youngest should now be treated as a non-dependent relative. She should be getting the reduction as a single-person on her Council Tax - and probably should have been all along?

Xroads Tue 05-Mar-13 18:16:46

Would she be able to rent a room out to either a lodger or put an advert up somewhere, personally I have looked for a spare room to rent, not to live in but to have a bit of space to do my paintings/ creative stuff so there is probably more people like me, work ft, have dcs and husband but no room to get creative so maybe she could rent a room for that purpose rather than having someone living there.......just an idea, I'd have been willing to pay up to £100 a month to borrow someones spare room as a studio.

StuntGirl Tue 05-Mar-13 18:18:54

I assume he's also looking for work sister, but in the meantime he has no money...

can she move into a smaller place nearer to her work? if she could cut her transportation costs, it would help, plus it would be easier for her son to look for work closer to town.

IneedAgoldenNickname Tue 05-Mar-13 18:20:21

cassarick I thought living with a non dependent person would be the reason she isn't entitled to the single person discount? She isn't the only adult in the household.

Sadly OP, there are so many people (myself included) in similar situations sad

Iseeall Tue 05-Mar-13 18:23:12

A visit to the CAB would be useful. Benefits are due to change soon, they will do a benefits check for her. At the CAB she will get the most upto date advice, and any other advise she needs.

spongebobandpatrick Tue 05-Mar-13 18:25:46

Heysoulsister, my friend and her son are not just happy to wait, I have no idea where you got that idea from. It takes approx 6 weeks to process a claim for JSA.
How would you expect him to get a job with £0 income. He will need money for bus fare, stamps, a dongle so he can browse the internet for jobs, as well as pounding the streets handing out his cv. All of those cv's he is going to post will need printing, which he will go to the library to do, but the library charge.

Unfortunately, she cannot rent a room out because she downsized to a 2 bed property 4 years ago when both her older children left home. Now there is one room for her and one for her youngest son.

It is rubbish isn't it?

She has sold a few items on facebook sales groups, and her place is looking more and more sparse. sad

I didn't realise she would pay so much extra tax on another job. I don't think she realised that either.

I think the thought of there being no light at the end of the tunnel is what is making her depressed at the moment.
She has no luxuries, what I would class as luxuries anyway. She doesn't drink at all, doesn't have a social life, doesn't have any hobbies, nothing but basic food and basic cleaning stuff, the cheapest of the cheap. sad

Footface Tue 05-Mar-13 18:27:28

Could she try renting in a cheaper area?

gimmeanaxe Tue 05-Mar-13 18:28:39

moving isnt cheap. Moving fees. Despoit plus month and a half rent in advance.

spongebobandpatrick Tue 05-Mar-13 18:28:46

She is on the exchange list, but she swapped her 3 bedroomed house with a garden for a 2 bedroomed 2nd floor flat 4 years ago, and hasn't had much interest really.

raisah Tue 05-Mar-13 18:29:14

not sure where your friend lives but has her son signed up with temping agencies. my friend signed up with brook st temping agency (Nationwide & online) & they found her a job within a week. She has now been made permanent so its worth them both sending their c.v's to see what happens.

spongebobandpatrick Tue 05-Mar-13 18:29:41

Thanks for all of this advice anyway. I am passing it all on.

Latara Tue 05-Mar-13 18:31:39

I don't think you are allowed to have a lodger if you are on HB sadly.

Latara Tue 05-Mar-13 18:33:35

Because she's on benefits - are there any free / reduced price courses or qualifications she can do to help her get a better job & earn more?

It's not easy at her age though to make a change like that.

Latara Tue 05-Mar-13 18:35:00

Although i have colleagues who qualified as nurses from being HCA's in their early 50's, so a career change is possible at that age.

mom2three Tue 05-Mar-13 18:47:05

She should contact her local Housing/council tax benefit office and apply for a second adult rebate if her son is on jsa. This should reduce the Council tax by the equivalent of the single persons discount on the basis that he is not in a position to contribute and she has lost her discount.

catlady1 Tue 05-Mar-13 18:50:21

I don't really understand why she gets housing benefit if she's working full time, is it because of her son living with her? Before I went on maternity leave I worked 23 hours and earned about £160 a week and was entitled to nothing at all. Or is it to do with how much your rent is?

Anyway, unfortunately this is reality for a lot of people, and it's only going to get worse when the benefits changes take effect. They expect you to work any and all hours but they don't understand that sometimes the costs associated with going to work can make it barely worth it and leave honest, tax-paying people in dire situations. Has your friend thought about a career change or moving closer to her current job? Those are probably her only options I'm afraid.

cakebar Tue 05-Mar-13 18:51:13

From your talk of exchanges I guess she is a HA tenant and in a 2 bed already so she can't really cut her housing costs. Her options are to work more hours or to reduce her commuting costs. Could she try and swop her flat for a flat close to her work? Or a flat on a public transport route to her work so that she doesn't have to run a car? TBH I think for her, her location is the 'luxury' she is spending all her money on.

Ionasky Tue 05-Mar-13 19:21:42

Agree with Latara - an extra qualification to boost her pay and would boost her mood too if she can see some possibility of getting out of penury. Perhaps she could talk to her employer about this - if she's been there 15 years, they might be able to suggest something that could help her progress at work?

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