Ria Killmister (20) was left with just £23 a week when her Social Security and other allowances were stopped because she had secured a better-paid job.Because her gross earnings of £1,620 a month took her over the threshold for childcare assistance, Ria now has to pay £790 a month for her two-year-old daughter Lauren’s place at Westmount Day Nursery.Her other outgoings after paying tax and social security contributions include £590 a month in rental payments and £10 a week for a JEC electric card for her de Quetteville Court States flat.Ria found that she would be marginally better off cutting her hours, and therefore her pay, and significantly better off if she did not work at all.
‘It is extremely frustrating because when you are a single parent who doesn’t work and you live off welfare, you get this stigma attached to you,’ she said.
‘Ask any single parent – the worst thing is that stigma, because there’s no getting away from it.’It is just not right.
We are not being given the opportunity to be independent from the States, who are the ones encouraging us to go out and work in the first place.’Fortunately, Ria’s family have been able to help her both financially and in putting her case forward to civil servants.
But she fears that without help like that, many young parents are left desperate and with nowhere to turn.Ria’s father, Gary Killmister, who owns a trust company, said: ‘There is a black hole at the top of income levels where single parents trying to advance themselves are worse off because there is no tapering off at the top of the benefit thresholds.’When I proposed that my daughter would be better off not working at all, I was told this would affect her pension.’Telling a 20-year-old with £23.08 per week that she will lose a couple of pounds per week on her old-age pension in 40 years’ time if she doesn’t work is hardly an encouragement to her to keep working.’After a lot of arguing with various government departments, Ria has now been offered help with her rent arrears and a little assistance with the cost of the nursery.
But Mr Killmister challenged any States Member to act now to stop what he described as ‘a nightmare’ for many young parents.Referring to the politicians, he added: ‘They are failing a significant number of young adults and children and are crushing them to defeat in life almost before they’ve had a chance to start.
If they fail after the States have provided them with an opportunity, that’s a different matter, but they should at least give them the facilities and support for opportunity so they can try if they want to.’The president of the Employment and Social Services Committee, Senator Paul Routier, said that the entire benefits system was being overhauled and that a new system should be in place by 2006.
It is expected to be modelled on the UK system, which offers a one-stop shop to claimants where one adviser co-ordinates applications for help to all the relevant agencies.