Over the last two months, I’ve been painstakingly trying to work out what our income will be now Sprogdaddy is unemployed and budgeting accordingly. It’s not been easy as his workplace have made a number of cock-ups to his pay and leaving date. Just before Christmas, we were finally provided with a clearer picture and I’m now feeling a little less stressed knowing what’s supposed to be going in and out of our bank accounts.
What I was surprised to discover is that even though Sprogdaddy was earning a pretty good wage, especially for the type of work he was doing, benefits are going to leave us only marginally worse off. I’ve gone over the figures time and time again, looking for what must be a massive mistake on my part. I haven’t found one. Which means that while we’ll probably be OK living like this, going back to work will be a whole different story. The odds of Sprogdaddy finding a job that pays as well as the last one are next to impossible. He’s going to be hard pushed to get something paying only slightly more than the minimum wage. And that’s going to leave us in serious financial trouble.
So my question is this – how the heck does the government expect people to enthusiastically search for work when they know they are going to be considerably worse off if they take a job? Who honestly wants to work 37.5 hours a week and earn LESS than when they were sitting on their arse all day every day watching telly? Shouldn’t full-time employment mean we at least take home the same money the benefits system gives us?
I have never been the benefits scrounging type and I hate the stigma and feeling of failure being on them. But I can understand why people are happy to live their lives without doing a day’s work. There’s no incentive to make a decent living other than the sense of personal pride and dignity.
However, one benefit that I’m not happy with is housing benefit. The local allowance here is just under £110 a week, which rounds up to about £470 per calendar month. I don’t know anyone locally who rents a home in the private sector whose rent is that cheap and looking at Right Move’s website, there are no properties currently available near that price. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a teeny terrace in a questionable area of town for £500 a month.
There’s also the issue that private rental landlords don’t like to take on tenants claiming benefits. Almost every half-decent property I look at has the damning statement “professional applicants only”, or words to that effect, tacked onto the bottom of the description. I understand that some people have no respect for the houses they live in and no landlord wants to deal with the tenant from hell, but please don’t taint all of us with the same brush.
Our rent is £615 a month and the annual inflation increase kicks in next month so it will likely be about £630 from then on. We have no choice but to make up the shortfall from our other benefits, luckily we can manage this but many people aren’t able to. So that means the only option is public sector housing for which there is huge demand and nowhere near enough property. It seems that if we can’t afford to stay here, we won’t get a council house until we are physically homeless. And if Sprogdaddy gets a minimum-wage job, that will be the reality. Now there’s a worry I don’t want having over my head.
At least we don’t have a mortgage any more. We’d get next to no help with that and undoubtedly be facing repossession now….