It’s half term in a couple of weeks. As a kid this would have been cause for celebration and I’d be counting down the days already.
As an adult it is a cause for concern and fiscal trauma.
Not because I don’t like spending time with my family – because I do. The days I consider “the best of times” have all occurred during family holidays or days out together.
It’s because school holidays threaten to break us financially.
It’s fine if Karen and I have holiday to use up at work. No problem at all. We all have a holiday together – or (as we’ve done the last few years) a staycation.
If we don’t we are in serious trouble. Because it means we not only have to keep our youngest boy in ‘pre-school’ but we have to put his older brother into the school holiday club too.
This costs us over £50 a day. For a week this would set us back £250 – or in this case because our eldest boy is off the Friday before the holiday because of a “teacher training day”, £300.
That’s more than I earn in a week.
Thankfully I have just enough holiday entitlement left over to cover the 6 days. If I didn’t it would still be cheaper for me to take the days off unpaid as I would lose less money giving up a week’s wages than continuing to work and having to pay for the boys to be cared for elsewhere.
This seems to me to be utter madness.
And it seems to be a particularly UK kind of madness. I don’t believe this kind of scenario exists in other European countries or, if it does, not to the same fiscally punitive degree. And I choose my words very carefully – because it feels like the state, our glorious United Kingdom, does not like or welcome kids into the protective embrace of its nannyhood. Rather, it feels like it punishes those that bring them into the world.
Now, let’s get my position clear. I’m not asking for freebies or a handout. I’m not asking for special privileges.
I’m just asking to be able to work and earn enough money to make going to work worthwhile.
Otherwise, what’s the point?
Few people work because they love it. We all need to be incentivized. And survival is a pretty good incentiviser.
If I’m not even gaining that luxury, Mr Cameron, give me one good reason why I shouldn’t claim benefits for the rest of my life and loot JD Sports whenever the fancy takes me?