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 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 04/99: Minimum wage  
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EDITIONS
Minimum wage Wednesday, 31 March, 1999, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Making motherhood pay
One of the aims of the minimum wage is to get people off benefit and into work.

But in the reality of the workplace, there are many who, even with the new measures, find staying at home the more lucrative option.

Minimum wage
Trisha Snellgrove from Netherton near Liverpool is one of these people. Until recently she was one of the UK's estimated 280,000 low-paid single working parents.

And come 1 April she would have been in line for a pay rise in her job as a cleaner. But Tricia went back on benefit instead.

"I was glad to be working but even with the minimum wage I would hardly have been better off," she says.

"The only difference working would have made would have been to give me a little extra for my eight-year old daughter. But I would have to win the lottery to pay for anything proper like a holiday."

For 12 months, Tricia worked two to three hours a day, six days a week cleaning offices and corridors for a local firm. For one week's work she took home 27.

Better off on benefit

It was her first job since her daughter was born. But after comparing her working income with her full entitlements on benefit she decided to cut her losses.

"When I am not working, I have about 80 a week. My rent is covered by housing benefit. But when in work, I have to pay rent and council tax - it just wouldn't be worth it even with the minimum wage," she says.

Tricia enjoys helping schoolchildren with their reading
To live to a reasonable standard, she thinks that 7 per hour is about the right amount.

It would allow her to take a full-time job that paid enough for a childminder for a couple of hours after her daughter finished school.

There might also be the occasional trip to the cinema or a museum which, Tricia says, is at the moment totally out of the question.

For the foreseeable future, Tricia intends to stay off the job market. There is, she says, little work for her in her area anyway.

But she will continue to do voluntary work for a couple of days a week at a local school.

"I teach spelling and art and help the children with their reading. It doesn't matter that I am not being paid. It's convenient and I am doing what I love," she says.

Links to more Minimum wage stories are at the foot of the page.


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