I have been, in the past, an active poster on these hallowed RW forums. For reasons that will become apparent below, in recent times I have been taking a bit of an enforced break from the banter and, indeed, from running itself.
But stumbling across this thread, I thought I would share my experience on the Child Benefit debate...
Here's our story.
I provide the sole income in our household. We are a family of 6.
I have twin daughters aged 2. I have twin sons who are nearly 4 weeks old. (Both sets conceived naturally.)
My wife and I think of ourselves as incredibly lucky. And, yes, I am lucky enough to be a higher-rate taxpayer. But only just. (Incidentally, I lost my job in 2009 and was super-lucky to find work quickly.)
Every penny I earn (after tax!) is spent supporting my family. Paying the bills. Covering the mortgage. We do not smoke. We don't drink. We have not had a holiday as a couple since 2004 (We have not had a holiday as a family ever.)
We live in London. (My job only really exists in London.) Where property is expensive. (We bought our house without any family help.) In our part of London, childcare is scarce. (We had to plead for places on a nearby play-group for our girls.) And it's not cheap. (The play-group is charity-run, but still costs us £3500-a-year.)
So for us, Child benefit for us is not 'Mummy's Latté Money' or 'University Fund'. It is cash that keeps us afloat.
Without Child Benefit, what would we do?
It is effectively impossible for my wife to return to work at the moment. She was refused flexible working by her employer. (Male, not married, no kids.) She had to resign her job as a well-paid Head of Marketing. She became a full-time-Mum.
If she returned to working full-time, the cost of full-time childcare (if we could find places) would wipe out her earnings twice over. We have no family living nearby. We have no help from friends. We would just have to find a way to survive.
I'm not moaning, just stating the facts of our situation.
You see, what the Government is trying to apply a simple solution (and, indeed, a simple-minded solution) to what is a very complicated issue.
And you have to ask why.
Yes, we have a gigantic black hole in the nation's finances. But there is also an ideological agenda going on here. And we are foolish if we ignore it.
And unless any reduction in Child Benefit is based on *household* income not *individual* income, all Cameron's claims of 'Fairness' and 'We're all in this together' are nothing but hollow political posturing.
NAME: Tea & Toast Man (though recently, I’m more ‘Coffee and Cake Man’)
BRIEF RUNNING HISTORY: I started running in 2001. Over the next seven years I ran a sequence of 9 marathon PBs going from 4hr16min at FLM 2002 to 3hr14min at Lochaber 2007.
I was a running addict and had the Excel spreadsheet to prove it.
Until, that is, last December when my running was stopped in its tracks by the wonderful, unexpected news that I was going to become a Dad.
My partner and I had been trying for a family for years, without any joy. Doctors told us it was unlikely that we could conceive naturally. They said IVF was our only option. But with a 2-year NHS waiting list in our area, IVF could cost us our life savings.
Then suddenly… the T&TLady fell pregnant. Naturally. With twins.
Erin and Niamh were born on 5 August. Two perfect little girls. Since their arrival, life has become a whirlwind of nappies, bottles and broken sleep. My motivation to run has disappeared. My Excel running log now languishes on the desktop, unopened. Caffeine and cake have become the fuel that gets me through the day (and night). In short, I need help!
REASON WHY WE SHOULD TRAIN YOU: Lapsed-runner-Dad-of-unexpected-twin-girls seeks expert help to kick his coffee and cake habit, pull on his running shoes once again and worry the 3-hour mark at FLM 2009.
Will do, S-C. Key-session-wise I was thinking of Tempo on Tuesdays and Speed on Fridays with a long run of up to 2hr-2hr30, on Sundays. I'll just be using the HRM on the other days to make sure I'm running easy enough. Peak mileage around 50-55mpw, I guess... Definitely need a good couple of 10Ks en route.