Karen and Darren Millar live in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. They both work full-time, Karen as a family support worker and Darren as a computer programmer. They rent privately and have four children, aged between three and 16. Their gross family income is £44,000, including tax credits.Ah. Right. And their beef?
Karen said:"People might think that four children is asking for trouble but we coped perfectly well until the coalition came in and began cutting away at the tax credit system at the same time as childcare costs increased."Translation: ‘I could easily afford four kids when everyone else was paying, but now look what’s happened!’
Newsflash, Karen; that’s exactly why we’re cutting benefits!
"We don't have any disposable income any more. Every single penny we earn goes on the most basic necessities. If we're really lucky, we might have £20 left at the end of the month but that doesn't happen often. "Oh, boo hoo! Hang on, where’s my tiny violin? I know it was around here somewhere…
"I try to make sure the children can have fresh fruit every day but there are occasions when I can't even afford that: they go without anything fresh at all maybe one week in four."Really? I take it you don’t bother shopping around, or buying fruit that’s not absolutely perfect, then?
Still, as long as you aren't telling me you've got mobile phones and Sky t…
"We have the lowest possible tariffs on our phones, a no-frills Sky package so the children have a little bit to watch because we can't afford to take them out."Blood pressure….RISING!
"It's very difficult to eat healthily if you don't have lots of money. There are loads of deals on ready meals and food high in fat but you very rarely see a deal with fresh or healthy food. We realised that our diet was making us all lethargic. The children were quieter and didn't have as much life in them. "Well, hallelujah! They've seen the light!
"So last year, Darren and I completely changed the way we eat. We now cook everything from scratch. The change in our health is amazing: our skin and hair has improved, the children wake up better in the mornings and don't seem as grumpy or agitated. It's changed their attitude to school: they're making more of an effort with their work. Their attitude to their health has improved too: the 14-year-old has started doing exercise. The 16-year-old has started asking for fruit and vegetables. "Amazing! But….wait. This is supposed to be a typical ‘Guardian’ whingefest, isn't it?
"But healthy eating carries a cost: our food bills have gone up by about £50 to £100 a month, although that's also due to food prices spiralling. "Ah. Right. They want more money so they can parent their brood in the style to which they've become newly accustomed.
"It definitely makes us tempted to return to our old diet: when you can spend £4 on a deal that gives you a week of meals for one person, you wonder if it's worth all the effort. But then you see the health impact and you see that it is. "Good. Get on with it then. No, you can’t have more money.
And no, it doesn't matter that you seem like a nice well educated family, with non-feral children with sensible names, rather than the usual demanding underclass feckless wasters with children whose names look like a particularly difficult to use handful of Scrabble tiles (some of these are coming up later today, though).
The simple fact is...I don't want to have to pay for you to breed. You want kids? Fine. Pay for them yourself.