Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The school placement

Today was a day I was dreading it was the day we would find out what school O got into.

All our choices were out of catchment and I would have been happy with any of the choices but they were all over subscribed.

I worried that they would have put us in our catchment school,yes it is a good school, but there is no way I would send O there when he had already been labelled by the head.

Luckily I needn't worried the e-mail arrived and we got our FIRST choice! I couldn't be happy and I'm sure O will be really happy there.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Challenging tax credits

Back in 2013 when I went on maternity leave for L the husband also had to pay for a driver for work (no he wasn't drunk just epileptic.) Needless to say our wages dropped so we were eligible for some tax credits.

However after updating them about L's birth and approximate self employed earnings even though it was under the £10k increase the payment stopped. 

At the end of the tax year they said we had been overpaid. I challenged them because I knew I had updated them every step of the way and our earnings hadn't risen by more than £10,000. The person I spoke to argued that you can only have the £10k disregarded once - ever in your life! No where doe it state this in the small print or on line so appealed the £120 they were asking for.

The appeal was unsuccessful and they now said that we owed £220 and if we didn't pay it could increase and they would pass to debt collectors if I didn't repay. If I hadn't been 100% sure we were in the right I would have just paid it. However, I'm determined and hate it when people are taken advantage of and the threats of the debt increasing just riled me more.

I  called and spoke to various different people and eventually got through to someone who was actually listening to me. He explained that the income wasn't the issue, the fact that they only added L to the claim during the appeal despite me notifying them at the time of his birth wasn't the issue either. Apparently when they updated the reduced childcare costs for O they had taken out the costs from the start of the claim to that date. It was their issue and someone had found it. Not the appeal process but one of the many advisers I had spoken to.

The error was escalated to head office and what do you know I no longer owe them £220 but they actually owe us £880! Yes you read that right it was over a £1,000 difference and I was unsuccessful at the appeal only a few months previous.

I therefore urge you not to take any request from the tax credit office as gospel. If you have updated them on any changes and your income hasn't risen by more than £1,000 don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and if need be seek additional advice.

When I spoke to collections department informing them of the escalation they said I would still need to pay or I would incur late payment charges - my defence was it wasn't my error and any extra charges would be written off when the claim was recalculated.

I've noticed that there are no definitive guidelines available to the public so you can calculate what you are entitled to yourself. This makes me wonder if it's because they cock up a lot and don't want to arm us with the information to fight back

Friday, 11 April 2014

Country kids play in the stream

This week has been half term and although it doesn't affect us directly it does mean the boys can play with their older cousins. So we headed to Poole and explored a wood.

The young one was eager to get straight in the mud but found it a little tricky staying upright when it got sticky.

It's ok mum I found a worm!
It wasn't long before we came across the stream, it was shallow enough that the young one could get in and join in the fun too. There was no stopping him - he wanted in on the action.

We took the hovercraft so that the older boys could take turns in sending it under the bridge whilst the others caught it from the other side.

We followed the path along the stream whilst the older boys followed in the water, L wanted to do this too but it was too deep in some parts for him.

Look mum I've found a stick!

To break up the day we also took the metal detector so they could hunt for treasure - a great advantage of having a pushchair is that you can take all these things without carrying them!
Wait it's my turn!

The boy thought he might find gold by hunting on a small island in the stream - he didn't

Although no metal treasure was found we did stumble across a real treasure - rope swings! 

My sister and nephew had a great time swing on them but the boy didn't want a go as it was too high. He was more than happy to swing it from one side to other whist trying to push his cousin in.

A great day with family, lots of fun and a washing machine full of clothes - love these days!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall