What It's Really Like To Be Stuck In The Welfare Trap - The M Word

What It’s Really Like To Be Stuck In The Welfare Trap

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Listening to the radio one day, as a narcistic condesending know it all declared that the Social Welfare Christmas bonus is only spent on going out…. I burst out laughing. Had to tell me friend, I found it so funny. “Hahaha…..Hes forgetting about the cost of fake tan, extensions, and a new outfit” I say. “Shur the Christmas bonus would only pay for the first half of the night out, you’d need the child benefit to cover the rest. Haha. Shots. Haha.”

Once my deeply sarcastic mirth died down I thought about my own situation. Mum of two young kids. Worked full time since I finished college for the past decade, hard enough to be earning 50K a year by the time I left a few years back. My ex had been the main carer until we split.

Why did I leave? It turns out, work doesn’t pay. Yep, you heard me. I calculated. 3K a month, minus 2K for creche fees, or two au pairs at the same time to cover my hours and commute(over 50 hours a week), and a second car with insurance for them, as I live in the sticks. So where does that leave me? With 1K to pay the mortgage. It doesn’t cover fuel, or anything else for that matter. And some noble souls do that. The working poor. Middle class income; working class existence.

I wasn’t in a great place with two very young kids, a broken marriage and much more I wont go into. I had a nest egg, I’d always been a diligent saver. So I took the leap, left work.

Social welfare weekly visits to the post office occur weekly as I am a one parent family payment recipient. It was hard after years of working life to wander into that bleak place at the beginning. Switching off that desire to claim, “I’m not  like the rest of people claiming here! I’ve paid tax at a higher rate and always paid my way until now” etc…. The loss of identity without work, I’ll save for another time….Anyway, None of that matters. We are all in our own cocoon of survival mode, and drop dignity like unwanted weight at the door going in. Every penny that I get from social welfare goes into my account to my mortgage. Not fake nails. Not fags. The roof over my family’s head.

I then get child benefit of €280, and maintenance of €200 a month. I have a banger of a car that drinks as much money as fuel in repairs and a growing list of house repairs that pain me to think about.

What does it feel like to be this broke? It feels like you are trapped. The little things become catastrophes when there’s money involved. While money doesn’t make you happy, the shortfall certainly can make you fret. Here’s a list of things that currently need doing:

  1. Large blind in sitting room fell and hit me today. Its been up 5 years. I have no idea when it will be up again.
  2. Dishwasher is not working. I now wash dishes by hand and use the machine as my draining rack.
  3. My bed mattress has holes in it you could fit a bucket into, due to my kids using it as a trampoline
  4. There is a bedroom door with a broken lock in my house. It no longer closes.
  5. The entire house needs a pressure wash
  6. I bought a second hand laptop when old one died. Within a month numbers periodically stopped working. The euro sign doesn’t work so I copy and paste a googled icon of it when required.

Every little thing becomes a big thing. There is no rent supplement for me. Frankly if I had rent allowance AND One Parent Payment I’d feel rich at this point. There is no mortgage assistance from social welfare, and my entire welfare payment is gone on my mortgage.

I have started my own business part time to try to supplement my income, with the tiny amount of time that childcare is covered by my ex, and brief window kids are asleep at night. There is no real support. The local enterprise boards do give good advice. Including attend “Start your Own Business Course” This takes time and money to attend. Small fee to regular folk. Food from the table for me. I have very little free time and no money. It takes both to make money. I write this as my kids sleep, out of frustration and a need to express myself.

I’ve got grit and a good head on my shoulders. I know some day, I’ll be out of the red. Someday I will be able to get what I imagine will be gargantuan list of house jobs at that stage done(Ideally by a hot topless builder, or at least that’s how I imagine it). Before any of that, I really want to be able to send my older child to a class they want to attend. I know that sounds small. But where I’m at right now, it would be a huge accomplishment. That’s my dream, and I will get there.