It pays to work does it Mr. Cameron?   10 comments

Dear Mr. Cameron,

I have written to you many times before, and at best all I get is a letter thanking me for taking the time to write.

This time I am hopeful for a response because your policies are really causing many people real hardship and difficulties – people who are hard working and trying to do their best – but banging their heads against the brick wall put in their way by you.

So, you say it pays to work, you say you will ensure you will support hard working families – in fact that is one of your most commonly used phrases.


Well, welcome to my world where your cuts to tax credits mean it does not to pay to work as of this tax year (2016 – 2017).

It does not  pay my daughter and son in law to work and this is impacting on myself as Granny to their child and on their childcare provider.



Maybe in your world on the sort of salaries that you earn; and your colleagues, friends and family earn, cutting a few hundred a month from a families income is neither here or there (maybe just one dinner out for four a month?) – and therefore you really do not understand the huge difference a couple of hundred pounds a month can make to a family – and to the well being of the child or children in that family.

I can not speak for everyone, I can not describe other people’s circumstances but I can tell everyone about the impact your policy is making on my family and those who do their best to support the child at the centre of it this.

Who in case you don’t realise – is a real child – not just a number.

She is little girl, age 20 months, who according to myself and her childminder is making exceptional progress in all area and is ticking ALL the boxes for her development.

The question is – How long for?

Your policies are impacting on her

My son in law, works full time and is more or less on the living wage, which is a typical wage in the area we live. My daughter works four days a week for a children’s charity, supporting children who have experienced Domestic Violence – I am sure you will agree a very important job supporting all those children and families. However I am  sure you won’t agree that  some of these families and children will have been directly impacted on through your cuts to children’s services and support services, and access to decent housing, mental health support and many other things I could mention. As of course I must not forget you are making all these cuts to services and benefits for the good of everyone in this country.

Until end of March my daughter work full time, but has reduced to four days to give herself a day to spend with her child but more importantly to remove the need for me and her father to look after her child free of charge one day a week, which we have done in the past to help our daughter survive financially. The other four days my daughter pays for her child to attend at a registered  childminder setting.

All was going well- for the two weeks since end of March, until my daughter got her renewal letter for her tax credits – without going into personal details too much – she will get nothing until July  (small overpayment last year – taking months to pay back because of low figure this year), then just £26 a month.

In the previous tax year my daughter got around £200 a month – which was not enough to pay all the childcare bill – in fact less than  50% – but it certainly was a big help, and with careful budgeting they just about kept their head above water.

When my daughter told me (and her childminder) about the renewal letter  we both said – it must be a mistake – maybe it is because you need to update the hours you work. So my daughter phoned and updated the figures – one day less pay (no change to childcare because I used to have her child for free on the 5th day).

Good news was received – there was a change to amounts – it went from £26 to £46 a month – but she is still paying for childcare 4 days a week and the extra £20 a month in tax credits does not come near to covering the decrease for working four days instead of five. AND is still around £150 a month less than last year.

Bottom line is my daughter can not afford to work five days or four days

In fact she can not afford to work three days, or two days or even one day – it just does not add up – she would not have enough to pay for childcare FULL STOP

So she reluctantly looked into giving up work – it did not really make sense but they could make ends meet, if she gave up owning and running car, and all other ‘nice things’. At the moment she needs a car for work so at the moment she has to keep the car – no matter how many days she works.


After hours of scribbling on bits of paper, using the online tax credit calculator my daughter came round to visit myself and her father as she had a very big favour to ask

Could we look after her daughter for not one day (as we used to) but two days a week – every week, for free.

We have said yes, because we want to help our daughter BUT why should we HAVE to because of your policy changes Mr. Cameron?

We are actually still working and due to your changes to retirement ages Mr. Cameron we will be having to work for the next 8 and 10 years respectfully.

If we went out to work , there is no way we could help our daughter and most likely she would have to sell the car and give up work – which she does not want to do.

As it happens we are both full time foster carers with 3 children in our care, we have to be available all the time not just for normal parenting type duties but to attend the never ending round of meetings connecting to our foster children. So yes, we can look after our granddaughter two days a week but at times this will be difficult because of fostering commitment.

And the irony of it all – at the end of March, I de registered from being a registered childminder because the care of the childminding children was sometimes compromised due to fostering commitments.

However, Mr. Cameron – really we have no choice – we still have to work ourselves and we have to support our daughter to enable her to work.

I wonder how many families are now (as a result of the changes to tax credits) now having to ask grandparents to provide free childcare, or rely on unregistered childcare?

I wonder how many families are realising that they won’t be able to pay their childcare bill?

Which brings me to my next point

Childcare providers – my daughter has already advised her childminder that she is going to have to cut the days her daughter attends the childminding setting from four days to two.

This of course will have an impact on the childminders sustainability and cause problems as she tries to fill the two days available.

I wonder how many childminders, nurseries, pre- schools and before and after school clubs will be getting notice from parents over the next few weeks that they are going to have to cut days or leave?

The cuts to tax credits and other benefits are already impacting on children, families, child care providers and grandparents.

I hope when you next go out to dinner Mr. Cameron (and you actually pay rather claiming it as an expense) that you consider that the cost of that ONE dinner for 4,  is likely to be the same  as the amount of tax credit cuts that families are having to cope with each month – and the amount that grandparents are subsidising for free, and the amount that childcare providers are losing each month per child.

Of course it is just one dinner to you – and is not significant – you could manage with out having that dinner – but for the families for whom these tax credit cuts are impacting on, it is very significant.



SHAME ON YOU MR. CAMERON – But then you think nothing of bailing out bankers, or paying millions for a scheme like baseline that you were told would not work, or cutting funding for Children’s Centre’s, or any of the other things cut  that impact on every day families and children – but has no impact on those who think nothing of paying out £200+ for one meal for 4 people, or huge amounts for someone to advise their wife on what to wear.

I live in the real world, my principles, ethos and practice are based on helping others, on volunteering, on doing what I can to support the disadvantaged.

I would like to invite you to come and live with me for a week, so that I can support you to understand just what it is like in the real world.

We can all change;  we can all learn to understand why we have the opinions that we have, and why change is needed; we can all do our bit to make things better for others.

Thing is Mr. Cameron – do you want to make changes to your thinking  that would lead to you understanding the impact your policies are having on people like me, people like my daughter, son in law and granddaughter, and people like my granddaughters childminder.

Please do phone me for a common sense, practical ideas   discussion around your policies. You could do so much more, for less – if only you bothered to listen to people like me – people who live in the real world.


Penny Webb


10 responses to “It pays to work does it Mr. Cameron?

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  1. Thanks Penny. Well done.

  2. Very well put Penny. I just wish he’d listen or even cared. All we can do is keep signing petitions, attend demostrations, ignore mainstream media and vote on May the 5th, then he’ll have to listen. Can I share on Facebook?

    • Please do share however you can, including with MPs via social media, email and by printing and posting. I hope people will share and will also share the stories from their family and friends – as has already happened via my posting

  3. There are so many ways in which this is unfair. Firstly the fact that my parents have worked hard all their lives and have done their part and should now be at the age where they can start doing things for themselves but aren’t able to as they are now having to care for grandchildren as well as foster children.
    Secondly where is my right to choose the childcare I want for my daughter, in fact where is my daughters right to access a high quality standard of early years education. This choice has been taken away from us. Work more hours people say. Yes OK I could put my hours back to full time by doing the extra day but what would this achieve for me? The difference in salary would cover the downfall needed to pay my chosen childcare provider but where would I get my money for petrol to travel to work considering I commute 28 miles a day. Even more so as my job requires me to travel round to schools to complete the 1:1 therapeutic sessions that the children I work with so desperately need, where would the money come from to cover the expenses of travelling to these schools, yes I can claim expenses through work but this does not cover the full cost of what I have to pay. So actually personally I would not be better off. Not to mention that my job at times can be extremely stressful and traumatising due to its nature…so am I not within my rights to decide I want to limit this personal impact to myself and my family by doing four days. Am I not within my rights to decide that actually I would like to experience watching my daughter grow up and spend time with her nurturing her instead of someone else having this pleasure.
    Find another better paying job I hear you say, well easier said than done despite me having a degree and experience within various fields. If it was as simple I would.
    So I can only conclude that within a first world democratic country things are actually not that democratic and there isn’t always a choice in things…all I can say is if this is how we are expected to live how will things ever change for future generations.

  4. A friend has seen your post but can’t comment on your status but he’d like to say
    “this is what I’ve been dealing with for years tell her. My parents have been in the same place. I can’t get tax credits because my ex partner does (they don’t support split families) despite me having the kids more.

    Apparently it’s because I earn so much. The one benefit for me of working is I don’t have to rely on tax credit uncertainties any more, but it does mean I can’t actually afford anything above the basics.

    Their policies are outdated, unfair, inhumane and the only people they care about is the wealthy.”

    • Thank you for passing on your friends comment – I am hearing so many stories about the impact of these policies. Not everyone wants to comment about their personal situation, but I am happy for people to post through others (or ask me to do it). It is so important that we speak up and let the policy makers know how their policies are impacting on hard working families, who just want to provide for their families.

  5. I totally agree Penny with this and can add examples of my own.

    I am a registered childminder, and dependent on other people to pay me. I although I might live in what is perceived to be an affluent area, my parents rely heavily on tax credits to survive, I have families who have used the local food bank, who are living in inadequate housing and those who find providing for there family a struggle.

    One example, a single mum in her mid twenties, who works in care, i am not her childminder, but I do help her out with childcare. She doesn’t have a contract of employment and her employer, can give her any shifts over a 6 day week. Her rent is huge, but normal for our area, she has to pay for 4 days of childcare a week, as there is no regular pattern to her shifts. She works because she want to provide for her son. At present she is not receiving tax credits, we are not sure why, but also tax credits are wanting her to pay back £300 per month, as they are saying they have previously overpaid her. She does not have any spare money, she actually can’t afford anything!!

    The second example, which could have had a deep impact on my business. A married couple with 2 children, both parents work full time, and they have no family nearby who can help with childcare, hence their childcare bill is big. The mother was considering giving up work a couple of months ago, because tax credits wanted about £2000 back immediately, because they had overpaid. Fortunately, they had people who could help them, and have now paid this, but the parents are seriously short of money.

    I find it unbelievable that our government and benefit system is so lacking in any kind of compassion and understanding, that people who want to work, are put in this intolerable position. That children are hungry, and meeting basic needs is a struggle, when I see the government flaunting their wealth, with no understanding of how people live . . . . . . maybe they should put themselves in our shoes for a few days?

    • Thank you Belinda for the examples you give. It is shocking that people in work have to rely on others to support them financially – especially when it is to pay back tax credits that they thought they were entitled to (and how can they get in wrong so often?)

      As for working families having to use food banks- I am speechless

      The Government – and Mr. Cameron in particular keep saying it pays to work – yes if you are on well above average salary and contracted hours. For the rest of us, it does not work – at all

  6. Well said Penny!
    These folk have absolutely no idea how the other half of society live, and if I am perfectly honest, I don’t think that they ever will.
    I have childminded for almost 30 years now, and it is always those working families which try the hardest, providing the infastructure for the rest of society to function (my husband is a lorry driver delivering goods to schools, the police force, the fire brigade, hospitals etc,) that become hardest hit.
    Thank you for taking the time to compose that letter, I simply hope that he actually reads it!

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