I’ve given this post such a self-explanatory title to allow those of you who may be uninterested in my perspective on the tax credits system to skip past it.
Go on, merrily skip on your way. If you stick around you’ll only be party to my profane ramblings about the ridiculousness of a system that is designed to ‘help’ people but often times does anything but.
No…still not put off?…You sure?!
Right then…allow me to begin.
Our story begins on a cold dark night.
Nah, just kidding. It begins in the autumn of 2010 when my boyfriend did something truly shocking and horribly selfish…he decided to go back to university to retrain and further his career prospects and opportunities. I know, disgusting, right?!
So I called up the tax credits helpline and told them that he would no longer be working.
“Well, you won’t get any money then”
“Um…but I’m still working?”
“Yeah but you’ve BOTH got to be working to claim”
“Err…right. But he’s going to be a full time student”
“That doesn’t count. Unless he’s in prison, or leaves you…you won’t be getting anything”
I’m sorry, UNLESS HE’S IN PRISON OR LEAVES ME?!
Are you seriously, I mean, seriously telling me that I would be better off, financially if the father of my children was a fucking criminal or irresponsible wanker? Is that the kind of message we really want to send to people? Crime doesn’t pay! Except that…err…it does. So here, have a few extra quid for having the good sense and foresight to only get knocked up by someone with an irrepressible urge to mug, maim or kill?!
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
Then again, I called them this morning, to update our details now that I finally have both of our P60’s in my possession.
The conversation was basically a lot of sighing (on her end) and stunned silence (on mine)
Apparently we were overpaid last year.
“Because you didn’t tell us about these changes to your employment and income”
“I’m telling you now?!”
“Yeah but you should have told us when you became unemployed in February”
“I didn’t become unemployed in February”
“No, but you’d been off sick for more than 28 weeks”
“Yes. But I was still employed and being paid sick pay?!”
“That doesn’t matter. For the purposes of tax credits you’re classed as unemployed once you’ve been off sick for more than 28 weeks”
Oh, right. I see how it works now. You make up rules, and we’re all just supposed to magically fucking know what they are! I totally get it! Genius.
Here, how about I make up some fucking rules of my own, like: If you’re employed, you’re fucking employed?! That seems like a good one to start!
“So, you’ll owe us some money back because between February and April you weren’t working enough hours to claim tax credits, but were being paid them”
“Why weren’t we working enough hours?”
“Because you were unemployed (NO I FUCKING WASN’T! YOU JUST MADE THAT SHIT UP!) and your partner was only working 16 hours a week”
“I was off sick from work, where I’m contracted to work 20 hours a week, and my partner has been working 38 hours a week (or more!) since November last year”
“Well, we didn’t know that. You should have called us last November”
“I kind of had a lot on my plate at that time, what with being in hospital and all”
“I understand that, but this is a joint claim, so your partner should have called us”
You’re right. He totally should have.
It’s just that he was being an utterly selfish bastard AGAIN, caring for me, his paralysed girlfriend who had just been diagnosed with a rare neurological condition, and looking after our two small children, you know- the ones you won’t give us any money towards childcare for? Yeah, those ones. Also, in November, his Mum who was waiting for a liver transplant, was diagnosed with lung cancer, and she died in the January.
And all the while he was working the increased hours- you know the 38 a week, that we forgot to tell you about but no, you’re right, it was an unacceptable oversight on his part to believe that you could access that information yourself…wait…what’s that you say…you don’t need me to supply you with our income details for last year because you can access that information yourself?…OH MY FUCKING GOD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!
So, apparently we will owe them some money back, from that (imaginary) period of time when I was magically unemployed without knowing it, and when Chris was working 16 hours a week that for some reason took him 38 hours to do. But don’t worry- they’re not going to ask us for a cheque or anything, they’ll just “take it off of the coming year’s award”. I.e. if they WERE going to give us any tax credits for 2014-2015, they will now be giving us less…or none.
Which is fine because I DON’T WANT THEIR FUCKING MONEY ANYWAY! But sadly I need it. Hence the extreme frustration at being forced to deal with their inane system and exasperated phone advisers, who always act like your changes in circumstance are a massive inconvenience to them…
“You moved house when?! *sigh* And you took a second job to survive *sigh* So what date did that employment start? *sigh* Oh that changes everything, now I’m going to have to switch screens *sigh*”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pour myself a glass of wine that I can’t afford.
Yes it’s 10am on a Tuesday morning, what the fuck is your point?!