Straight from the horse’s mouth




Once again we are receiving a higher number of visitors than average.  Things have been quite surreal for us recently, resulting in a lot of support and also the expected negativity too.  We would all do well to remember that sometimes certain things are portrayed a certain way to achieve a certain reaction or response.  I am as guilty as anyone else of reading or watching something and taking it as 100% accurate and honest but it’s something for us all to keep in mind, I think.

I responded last year with the answers to some of the questions that were asked about us at the time a story ran.  I answered questions regarding whether or not we lived in council accommodation (we don’t), regarding whether we work (we both do) and regarding the “benefits” question.

The final one seems to have been taken out of context in a couple of recent articles and is creating quite a stir it seems, so rather than relying on any other media I thought I would add to my previous post with some further clarification and my own thoughts.

As already stated last year, we both work, do not claim Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit (we own our own home), or Council Tax Benefit.  We do claim Child Benefit and have our combined wages topped up with Child Tax Credit.  As I stated last year, we both work and “pay into the pot” yet we seem to be admonished for taking back the money we are effectively putting in in the first place.


Whilst on the subject of taxes and in response to those crying out about how their taxes are supporting us I wish to point out the following:

When we were working four jobs between us we were registered as employed and self employed and paying taxes through all jobs.

We have paid taxes each time we have bought and sold our properties.  

We pay taxes now which support the education system yet our children do not use it.  And whilst I’m mentioning this I would also like to point out that home educators get nothing… not one penny… from the government to teach our children ourselves.  All equipment, curriculum, courses, books, material, computers, stationery, exams – everything – is paid for ourselves. 

Our oldest two children are also working and paying taxes too.  I shall pass the thanks on from those of you who are approaching retirement age or who will be retired in the next few decades during which they will continue to be taxpayers.  I’m sure they would say that you are welcome.  Because as well as doing our best to bring our children up with a work ethic we have also brought them up to be polite. 

We are paying for independent midwifery care ourselves throughout this pregnancy.  Yet still we are paying our taxes which goes towards the local community midwives.  

Now,  I know many parents of more than three or four children will admit to having experienced people seeing you with your family and automatically assuming that you are claiming benefits.  By “benefits” I refer to “out-of-work-not-looking-for-a-job-and-using-the-kids-as-an-excuse” type ones.

The point I had actually made was that despite having children, I have always (well, apart from four years when Ben and Steph were young), managed to work somehow, so don’t understand how some women have never worked at all during their lives and have instead claimed Income Support, claiming that they haven’t been able to because of their children.  A lot of women, both married, in relationships or single can and do manage to work and many do not have any choice in whether or not they do, nor a network of support either.  Yet it is still possible for them so why are there still so many who claim to be unable to do so?  Another point being that Mike has always, always worked as well, so why are there so many two parent families who again claim to be unable to work and freely admit they’d be worse off if they do?

The crux is this:

We are not wealthy by a long shot and don’t have extraordinary jobs but we have worked, paid down debt, invested, bought and sold property and still do work despite the fact that it would be far more profitable for us not to.

This means there is a problem somewhere. 

It is not encouraging to know that even though we are two parents who both work, both contribute to taxes and are trying to instill a work ethic into our children by practising what we preach, there are people who refuse to work (and yes, use the fact they have children as an excuse, as well as poor health and ailments and whatever other excuse they can use),  and who take advantage of the unemployment benefit system which was designed to be a safety net and end up with a far, far higher income than we do for doing absolutely nothing.  Small families, big families, individuals and couples.  There are people from every set-up who take advantage of the system.

Now, Child Benefit is a universal benefit for every, single child in the UK.  It is not a reward for being unemployed. Neither is Child Tax Credit a reward for being unemployed.

Child Tax Credit was brought to encourage people to work by bringing their wage into line for the cost of living in this country.  You once received it as an adjustment of wages through your paypacket.  Then the system for it changed.  In the  US I believe there is a similar system which is called a Tax Rebate and given annually.

Even though the bulk of our money is earned we do have it topped up with the CTC.  There is no shame in that.  That is what it is there for as I will go on to explain.  Unfortunately, the system in this country is so messed up that those who refuse to work are far better rewarded.

If wages were decent, the minimum wage started at a reasonable level and the cost of fuel, clothes, food etc were not so over-inflated in this greedy country then CTC would not be needed.

To illustrate, states that the average wage for a nurse here in the UK is between £15,000 and £35,000 per annum.  When we compare that to the estimated average wage for a nurse in the US of $40-80,000 p/a (that’s £26,000 – £52,000), that’s a great deal of difference.

Another example is fuel prices.  Current UK prices taken from states the average price of unleaded fuel as being approximately £1.33 per litre (this would be approximately $7.71 per US Gallon, for those of our readers in the US).   In the US, the average fuel price per gallon (note: not per litre) is $3.50.  This means that 1 US Gallon of fuel if converted to litres would cost 0.52 pence per litre (92 cents) here in the UK.  Another big difference.

As for house prices, you can Google away to get an idea of how much further the money goes compared to here.  The difference is astounding.

“I’m only getting what I’m entitled to” has become the call of the ones who have figured out it’s better off to not even try to work.  Those that do work and contribute are, in my opinion, the real ones with any entitlement to the money that they have paid in in the first place yet they are attacked for even trying.

So between the escalating cost of everything. insatiable greed and an (unemployment) benefits system that is now a lifestyle choice for some rather than the safety net it was intended to be, this country has some serious re-thinking to do.  It is only through pride that people work, and I’m not talking about large families, or small families – this affects individuals without dependants too.  But when you rely on people’s pride rather than a decent living as their only incentive to work it’s not going to go far when they are up against yet another generation who have grown up with the mentality that work doesn’t pay.  But we need a government who won’t only address the issue of a benefit system which doesn’t work but needs to bring wages up into line with the cost of living to make it possible for people to live fully independently.  Of course, no government will ever make that happen because as long as they have the dependence of the people their votes are safe.  You won’t bite the hand that feeds you, after all.

If this doesn’t change soon this country is not going to get off the slippery slope that it’s on, and it needs to be addressed soon.


 {photo credit}


7 thoughts on “Straight from the horse’s mouth

  1. Well said!
    I am always dismayed when I go into hospital to have a baby and the staff are off hand to me when they read my notes until I mention the fact that both me and my husband work.
    I agree with child benefit as well, and do not feel in the least bit guilty or bad for claiming and using this. I wrote an article recently on my own blog about all of this because the Daily Mail featured a family of 10, we have 11. The husband ‘had’ to give up work, after they had their 3rd child because his wife had a curvature of the spine. Erm… I have a severe curvature of the spine, held together in a very painful 6 hour op by 2 Harrington rods and 10 nuts and bolts. Yes I was told to lead a quiet life and only have two children. Yes I ignored then when I realised pregnancy did not make my back worse, but rather lifting the children did, so I was very careful. Does my back hurt? yes sometimes, but then so does my husbands and he has nothing like me. Do I collect benefits? not! not ever, nor would I in anyway consider myself disabled!
    And why pray does this couple have breakfast delivered to the door? If they are BOTH not working surely one of them can get up and at least make the kids something nutritional?
    It made my blood boil so much I phoned the Daily Mail and spoke to the journalist, just to set the record straight.
    Anyway rant over.

  2. I’ll say it again, no family should be able to recieve more money for not working than they do for working.

    It does make me wonder how on earth people in the US can claim to be so bad off. In fairness they have to pay their own medical expenses or for very expensive insurance, something we don’t worry about, but is that enough to make up for the difference.

    But, as someone who is also disabled, please don’t judge those who don’t work due to disability. Fiona, you say you have a curvature of the spine, but can you be sure yours is as severe as this other lady’s? Her’s could be far worse than your own, you don’t know for sure. My sister has a curvature of the spine and experiences almost no pain at all, so should I assume you are the same as her? People judged my husband for staying home to care for me when I was pregnant, because they said it was ‘just morning sickness’, actually it was hyperemesis, leaving me bedridden for 3 months, and pretty sickly for the other 6, losing 15% of my body weight in 8 weeks and, at it’s worst point, causing me to nearly faint every time I stood. But, women said ‘I had morning sickness and I still worked’ etc, etc, implying that he was simply using it as an excuse. You can’t judge the disabled until you meet and know them, because there are different degrees within every disability. I am legally blind. But the term legally blind can refer to someone who sees nothing but black, to someone that sees light and movement, to someone who sees things but it’s blurry enough to be considered blind, however they can still make out enough to be fairly well functioning, and even people who see almost clearly but have some other hinderance, such as severe glare issues that cause them to be blinded in certain circumstances, and so many things inbetween I can’t even begin to list them. You simply cannot judge someones ability based on the name of a diagnosis alone.


    And now, I’m going to say something very controversial that you may not agree with Tania. I don’t think mothers should be pressured to work at all. I think that, so long as one parent is working, it is fair for the other parent to claim something, such as parenting payment or whatever the UK equivilent may be. I know you say you have worked most your life, and that’s wonderful for you. We both believe mothers should be at home raising their children, but I believe it is a full time job in itself, and to force a mother to work raising her children and keeping home, and then work a job as well, is entirely unfair. Until 50 or so years ago, a mans wages were enough to support his family along with whatever his family came up with in their day to day lives, such as needlework. Now they are intentionally half of what they need to be because they expect a second worker, the wife, to make up the rest. As far as I’m concerned that is very wrong. The governments of both our countries have altered the entire ecconomy into a two income system, giving women no choice but to have two jobs, a ‘job’ plus their family and home. Is that liberation? Because that’s what womens lib has created. But that’s a whole other rant. My point is, I don’t believe any mother should be pushed or pressured into finding work, so long as her husband is working and providing. She has her hands full enough with children and schooling and home and husband and finding a little time for herself in the mix. So as far as I’m concerned there’s no shame in taking parenting payment (which is only ever paid to one parent at a time, so the other one should be employed hopefully). Having said that, I personally collect disability pension due to my blindness. I hope to make a little income one day perhaps, when I have older children about, but I don’t see it happening any time soon without stretching myself too thin. I need the time to focus on what’s important to me.

    Please don’t think I’m trying to say you’re wrong, it seems you have that time, you have the helpful older children, etc, you obviously feel it’s working for you and that’s great. But sometimes I feel like these sorts of things shame all mothers who are unemployed, even when they have a working spouse and young children, or even older children who, they feel, they cannot dedicate enough time to if they are also working, even within the home.

    The whole thing is such a messy topic.

    1. I think the issue is not those who genuinely cannot work but those who claim to be unable to because it is more beneficial for them not to and because they are taking advantage of the system. Like I said, the system in this country has become a lifestyle choice rather than the safety net it was designed to be.

      Yes, I do agree that mums shouldn’t be made to go to work, and though there are women who like to continue to work once they have children there are also the great many who do so out of necessity (as did I when I had to work outside of the home), but it was a case of needs must.

      As I said in this post rather than pushing childcare places and funding them for those who don’t need them, the government in this country should fund the childcare places for the mums who do want to work yet make it possible for mums who want to remain at home with their children to do so by making an earned wage by the husband enough for him to support his family. The £6.08 minimum wage is diabolical.

      Mr Cameron, I await your invitation to discuss these matters!

  3. There is an even bigger problem in this country and it’s the fact that the vast majority of people would rather see the negative than the positive and prefer to think the worst about people.

    Maybe this comes from self preservation – better to be surprised by the worst in someone actually being the best that be disappointed by the reverse of that.

    We (only) have 4 children but we get “those” looks too. We stopped caring what others thought a long time ago. The important thing is that we know we work hard and don’t claim any benefits other that CB and CTC and the people whose opinions we do care about know this.

    This was a very well written piece – maybe one of the tabloids would like to run it?

  4. I have loved reading this, and agree with most points. Roy and I moved to the to the US with 5 children to try to get out of the poverty trap we were in, in the UK. Roy was a newly qualified nurse with a BSC hons degree, stuck on 3 month contracts whilst there was ( as there is now again) a job and pay freeze for nurses.
    We moved there where Roy s pay then doubled and thought we could never afford to move back.
    Roy worked hard and his last job in the US was an emergency room director of nursing with a salary of $85,000. We sold our house and made a lot of money, we were having our first son after 8 daughters and Roy changed his job, as he was unhappy working for a “for profit” hospital. We found ourself in the position of a gap in our health insurance and with the impending birth, realised our savings, house, etc could be wiped out if our new infant required a day or two in the intensive care. We felt nervous of a future with no safety net and such a large family. ie if Roy or I or any of our children got so sick that Roy needed to cut hours, our whole families health insurance would be jeopardised.
    We thought we d investigate if we could afford to live in the UK again and found out that Roy as a top nurses salary could earn around £40,000, but with CB and CTC we could have it topped up to be around a similar pay, we made the return back to our homeland to be closer to family and the hope that we could afford to support our family
    We now are in the situation that we will probably lose our CB and our CTC due to the new tightenings that the government have introduced, we find this a horrible situation to be facing but rather than winge about it or go on some dole system, where we would probably be better off, we will have Roy find a second job or some other way to help us manage to finance our family! The UK is so highly taxed and so poorly paid the system doesn t work. I have a baby crying and need to sign off but hope you can understand my moans!

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