Universal Credit nightmare Watch

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Report Thread starter 2 years ago
I really am beginning to wish I had never started my MA!

I started my MA in history, part time, in September. At the same time I had to swap from tax credits to Universal Credit as due to this change in circumstances, they insisted that we swap over. I must explain at this point that prior to my starting I had been a stay-at-home parent for 5 years, caring for my 3 young children. I started my MA as my youngest turned 3, and was eligible for 15 hours a week free care hours which made it financially viable (just) for me to attend university. The idea was at the as I wasn't expected to 'seek employment' until he reached 5, I would have the 2 years at University to get myself back up to speed, volunteer a bit around my studies etc, and upon graduation find myself a job. Ostensibly though the MA is purely a personal ambition, and really not essential to my non-existant career but I saw this (combined with the PG Loans) as just about the only opportunity I would have to do this until my children were a lot older.

Fast forward to now and the expectations have changed. Now, if you have a child over 3, you're expected to find work. The universal credit system DOES NOT support students and therefore they see the PG course to be my choice. Even though I had started the course before the expectations changed, it's a blanket change. If I refuse to sign on/look for work/find a job they will 'sanction' me (i.e. dock eveything except the children's elements, therefore losing nearly £400 a month!).

I do understand that the benefit system is stressed, and it's not set up to 'allow people to jolly about doing university courses' which is what someone has told me. It is a lot of money, and I do see that it is right. I should be out trying to pay my own way. But this is going to make studying nigh on impossible. I wont be able to find my path back into work properly or in a considered way that will allow me to build a base for my family. I had thought about going and doing a PGCE/Early Years CACHE qualification after my graduation, but this again will not be covered, so I know I will have to pay for this myself. I understand I sound selfish. My husband works full time, and the UC is pretty much essential to our survival so I am going to have to go along with their requirements. I have no choice.

I am more annoyed that I cannot backtrack. I am £10k in the hole with my PG Loan no matter what I do. I have completed 2 terms almost (have my assignments due in in 2 weeks) and am really enjoying my course. It's been my ambition and goal to do my MA for 12 years but I had not been able to save the money up to go and the PG Loans offered me a way of achieving it while still maintaining a stable home life for my children. I was fully prepared to start working/volunteering in September around my studies, when my youngest is due to start school full time (he is 4 in August) but under the old system I would have had a year with no expectation of working, no pressure or 'commitments' to the job centre or fear of sanctions - when I would be writing up my dissertation and finding a good path for me and my family.

My hand is being forced. I will be expected to work 16 hours a week. Granted I would then be eligible for 30 hours a week childcare for my youngest but that's term time, and what about holidays? My husband works shifts. He can't take the kids regularly hence why I've been at home.I will need a job that I can still attend university also, as I have paid for this course......unless of course I quit which may be my only option come September if my new employer will not let me pursue my 'hobby' as the job centre see it.

What a mess.

Sorry for waffling on. I'm just so down right now. I'm going to see the job centre after term has finished, and hopefully I can negotiate a 'stay of execution' until at least September so I'm at least not trying to find childcare over the summer as that would bankrupt us. Even with the help the UC gives you with childcare, you have to claim it back, so the outlay is yours to begin with. I've had enough - I thought this would be nice, would be a good way to enter the world again, and maybe help me re-ignite my career or help me enter a new one. It would stimulate me, help me, boost my confidence after years of being 'mummy', but at the moment I feel like I've let everyone down and that there is no way out of this hole! I am just going to have to get myself a job in order to be left alone by the UC system, and then go from there. My own personal goals will have to wait in order to ensure my family's stability.....which feels like a catch 22, as I don't feel like we will ever be stable now, as we're 'in the system'.

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