Monday, July 16, 2007

Family split as they can't afford to stay together

Sunday's News of the World carries this story of a family, married mother and father and a baby son who have split up because when the father takes a new job they will be worse off. What is more, they will be much better off if they split.

The article says:
Sean Ash and wife Chloe agreed to break up after realising they would lose out even MORE when he takes a new job.

They spoke in the wake of a major political row this week, sparked by Tory leader David Cameron's tax-break pledge to give married couples an extra £20 a week.

Sean and Chloe, who have both been on benefits, explained why they decided to join what Mr Cameron called "our broken society".

As a couple, they had a joint net income of £1,702 a month. But after the split, Sean now gets £1,184 and Chloe £1,396—making a total of £2,580.
And then goes on:
That means they are £878 a month in benefits better off leading separate lives.

Sean, 25, soon expects to start a job with London Underground earning £22,000 a year. But he says he had to leave his wife and one-year-old son Dylan three weeks ago when it became clear that him working would bring their joint income down to £1,472 a month.

Bonkers isn't it? The problem here is that the costs of living of single parents are met whilst those in relationships appear to be able to go hang.

One of the major considerations of course is housing benefit. A single parent or a family with no wage earners working 16 hours a week or less gets it whereas anyone working over 16 hours a week does not. Of course the situation is that a two parent family can't get away (rightly) with two people not earning full time on the state unless there is a good reason, and one of them wanting to work does not cut it, whereas being a single parent, it is not unreasonable (again rightly) to say they don't have to work full time as there are chores to do.

This is of course where Unity is a F*ckwit not a Ministry of Truth as he would have us believe, as he showed in this article entitled "He’s not the Messiah… he’s a fuckwit!"

The problem with Unity's lack of thought lies with this remarkably stupid one sentence assumption:
Instead of taking Mad Frankie at face value, lets look at a more realistic scenario - a two parent family with a single wage earner in the same minimum wage McJob, with all other factors (housing benefit, child benefit, etc) being treated as equal and, therefore, excluded for simplicity.
The problem is that Unity is a fuckwit who does not live in the real world. If you have two adults in a household one of them will have to work unless their is a good medical reason not to, and that will have to be full time unless there is no work, and in reality there is work in most parts of the country and that means the work more than 16 hours a week. that means they DON'T GET HOUSING BENEFIT.

I have run across this problem with people on benefits before. The cutoff is sharp in the extreme. You can't feed a family if you have no kitchen to cook the meal in, and you won't get one of those unless the accommodation is paid for.

Got it Unity?


Unity said...


1. It's simply not true that you lose all housing benefit if you work over 16 hours a week - it all depends on your earned income.

Like other benefits you start with set allowance, which is based on the income support rate for the family - earn more than that and your benefit entitlement starts to taper off at a set rate, which differs from benefit to benefit.

2. I'll have to do the exact numbers for this family, but at first sight the main problem is their housing costs and if you want to get into debating the policy decisions that create that problem then you have to start with Thatcher's deregulation of the housing sector and sale of social housing.

This is one of the occasions where the law of unintended consequences come into play - it was Tory housing policy that pushed up costs in the private rented sector only then for them to realise, some time later, that this pushed up the bill for Housing Benefit, which they then went on to cap, causing even more problems.

It's rather more complicated than you seem to think.

Unknown said...

Hi my name is Sean Ash

Please read this article, you may find it very intersting to this story.

Kind Regards

Mr Sean Ash

Unity said...

Told you it was more complicated than you thought - oh and if you read my original comments, you'll find that the core of my argument related to the question of high marginal tax rates arising from the income tapers on housing benefit and on the child care component in tax credits, which are close enough in effect to be treated the same.

Benedict White said...

Unity, it is a little more complicated but the point still stands that the family will lose housing benefit and would be better off apart or unemployed.

The system is broken, end of discussion.

Out of interest have you a link to a document listing the taper on housing benefits?

flashgordonnz said...

great link, Sean. Cheers