Martin Kirby Column; A Few Home Truths
THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A LARGE FAMILY
Until last week, few of us had heard of Heather Frost, and when the fuss over Tewkesbury Borough Council offering to build her a six-bedroom eco-home worth £400,000 dies down, we will soon forget her. Why? Because you can bet that another 'old woman who lived in a shoe' is waiting in the wings.
That's why I'm not bothering to join the chorus of outrage against Ms Frost – as she quite rightly says – it isn't her fault. It's the system.
Many people are unemployed through no fault of their own and are desperate to get back into a job. But those who aren't keen on earning a living know that banging-out a few kids will get them kitted-out with everything they need at the expense of those who are daft enough to work.
In today's bleeding heart society, where everything is someone else's fault and someone else's responsibility, there are people who see living on benefits as their God-given right and anyone who objects is regarded as a Victorian villain, casting infants out into the snow.
Although the 'build her a house' story grabs headlines, it's a drop in the ocean of cash being drained from the system by hundreds of thousands of unemployed (and unemployable) people who are happy to grab whatever's going - and there's quite a lot.
According to the website GOV.UK; "You get Child Benefit if you're responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training). You get a tax-free payment for each child". It also points out; "If you or your partner have an individual income of more than £50,000 and one of you is entitled to get Child Benefit you might be affected by a new tax charge".
The current rates are; Eldest or only child, £20.30. Additional children (per child) £13.40. True, it's not a fortune, but let's move on to the HM Revenue and Customs website; "Tax credits are payments from the government. If you're responsible for at least one child or young person and they're under 16, or under 20 and in approved education or training, you may qualify for Child Tax Credit, which isn't taxable.
Your children could get free school meals if you get an income-based benefit (for example Income Support), or Child Tax Credit only".
Next, health; "If there is a charge for your treatment and you're on a low income, you could get, among other things, free prescriptions, free dental treatment and eyesight tests, vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses and help with the cost of travel for some NHS treatment".
With 'Healthy Start' you can get: coupons to exchange for free vitamins, weekly vouchers to buy milk, fresh or plain frozen fruit and vegetables, or infant formula milk. If you are pregnant and under the age of 18, you will automatically qualify whether or not you get other benefits or Child Tax Credit.
If you're on a low income and getting certain benefits or tax credits, you could get a Sure Start Maternity Grant. This is a one-off payment to help towards the cost of maternity and baby items. The grant is tax-free and you don't have to repay it. The grant is £500 paid as a lump sum. If you've had twins or triplets for example, you can get £500 for each baby.
By the way, Child Benefit doesn't count as income for other benefits.
Now I'm not suggesting that every unemployed person with children gets all of these benefits at once, but no matter who gets what, it's important to remember that those who work and pay tax are the ones providing it.
Ladies of my generation remember when being pregnant while single was a disaster. Not just because of what the neighbours would think, but more importantly, it was an extra child to provide a home for, with no additional income. There was no 'Healthy Start' or Housing Benefit in those days; girls just had to hope their parents would support them.