A WEYMOUTH woman has called on the government to reform the working tax credit system after admitting cuts to her benefits left her feeling suicidal.
Jill Hordle, 57, works 18 hours a week at two different jobs, but because she is a single adult with no dependent children, she is not entitled to any tax credits.
This means she cannot claim any job seeking benefits and is no longer receiving the Working Tax Credit – a payment of up to £800 spread over 12 months – because she does not fit the criteria.
Ms Hordle said: “I think the government needs to look at the system and to just start again, restructure it all.
“The working tax credits should be there to help anyone who wants to work. There are hardly any jobs in this area that offer 30 hours a week. They are normally zero-hour contracts and are seasonal.”
Ms Hordle currently has a cleaning job and a Saturday job at Marks and Spencer. She said her nightmare started in 2011, when she was made redundant from her role as the Post Office Bureau manager at Weymouth’s WH Smith store.
Six months after losing her job, Ms Hordle was forced to sell her home and live on a friend’s sofa. She currently lives in a one-bedroom flat in Weymouth, but is looking to sell as she cannot afford to continue living there.
She added: “I have been so depressed about it all. It has kept me up at night thinking what am I going to do now, how am I going to pay this bill.
“I can’t afford hot water – that’s how bad it’s got. I can’t even put the heating on in the winter because it costs so much. I’ve felt suicidal so many times and I get so down about it all.”
Cllr Francis Drake, brief holder for social inclusion at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, agreed that Ms Hordle should be given more help by the government.
He said: “The government should look into the case properly and see if there’s any way they can help her. If she’s on 18 hours a week, working two jobs, she’s not going to be earning fantastic money. She would probably be entitled to some help.”
A spokesman for the Treasury, who deal with government policy on benefits, said: “The government is supporting those who work hard.
“We are committed to delivering a tax and welfare system that provides the right incentives for people to work and the best way to help people become more financially secure is to enable them to keep more of the money they earn.
“The tax credit system supports people on low incomes who are in work or whom have children and at the same time we have taken significant steps to reduce the tax burden for those on lower incomes.”
- Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers Alliance, said that Ms Hordle’s situation was a ‘symptom of just how complex our tax-and-spend system has become’.
Mr Isaby said: “Taking with one hand via taxation and giving with the other through credits and benefits is nonsensical.
“It would make far more sense to simply leave the money with hard-working people in the first place.
“Arbitrary cliff edges on the number of hours worked or what wage people take home only muddy the waters. Until we have simpler taxes and benefits, we’ll continue to see perverse outcomes in the labour market.”
How to become eligible for working tax credit:
There is no set limit for income, but each case is decided individually as long as people fall into one of these categories: 25 to 59: Work at least 30 hours a week to get £800 credit a year.
60 or over: Work at least 16 hours a week to get £800 credit a year.
Disabled: Work at least 16 hours a week to get up to £2,935 a year.
Single with one or more child: Work at least 16 hours a week to get up to £1,990 a year.
Couple with one or more child: Work a combined 24 hours a week to get up to £1,990 a year.