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real lives Tuesday, 9 March, 1999, 20:00 GMT
Child care still a burden for couples
Name Sara Whyatt and Stephen Brayne
Married No
Children Eleanor, aged 6
Gross earnings (employment) 1,100pcm (Sara)
Gross earnings (self-employment) 1,650 (Stephen)
Gross savings income n/a
Mortgage payments 350pcm
Pension payments 100pcm (50 each)
Cars One (private)
Household insurance 360pa
Beer 7 pints/week
Wine 3 bottles/week
Spirits 1/2 bottles/week
Tobacco 0 packets of 20/week
Petrol 150 litres/week

Sara Whyatt and her partner Stephen Brayne live in southeast London. Sara works part-time as manager of a charity, while Stephen is a self-employed photographer.

Ms Whyatt believes Chancellor Gordon Brown delivered a careful budget although she is glad he did nothing to cut child benefit.

Encouraging women back to work

She had been looking for measures which would specifically help her pay for child care.

Although the measures contained in the Budget to help lower paid families do not affect her, Ms Whyatt has welcomed them.

She said: "The chancellor has helped to encourage women back to work through the idea of family credit."

Her family may be fractionally worse off after the 1999 Budget.

Ms Whyatt said: "I'm glad that the decision to tax benefit were delayed.

"Although I wouldn't be upset if the top bracket did have their child benefit cut.

"I was concerned child benefit would be reduced, especially in the light of how much I have to spend on child care."

Ms Whyatt was very disappointed that the chancellor did not include any provisions to improve the circumstances of parents who have to pay for child care.

She said: "I pay up to 50 a week of my salary on child care which is pretty steep.

"It is almost a tax in itself as you have to have child care if you want to work.

"If I didn't have to pay for child care, I would be in a very comfortable position."

Thumbs up for green plans

The environmental measures contained in the chancellor's statement such as the announcement that companies will benefit from providing green transport for employees have also met with Ms Whyatt's approval.

However, she does not believe the decision to freeze the duty on alcohol will greatly benefit her.

She said: "I don't drink that much and I don't smoke so I'm not really affected by changes to those.

"I'm please ao see more plans to help the environment though."

Ms Whyatt and her partner are homeowners and will be affected by the decision to axe mortgage tax relief (Miras).

She said: "I'm not particularly bothered about Miras being abolished.

"It didn't amount to a great deal and I would rather see the redistribution of wealth through benefits and other measures."

See also:

26 Feb 99 | real lives
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