Thursday, 17 April 2014

Egg hunt on the beach

At the weekend we headed to Lepe beach to hunt for eggs on their egg trail. We love to spend time at the beach and often pop down for lunch in the cafe.

The cafe flooded during the valentines storms so only reopened on Saturday and boy have we have missed it. What's not to love sitting by the bifolds soaking up the sun and sea breeze.

After lunch we got our trail map for £2 and set out on our hunt. We were hunting for painting eggs with letters on the back which spelt out a word.

First stop was the park and a great view for us. 

We started to find the eggs scattered along the route and it was a good opportunity for the boy to learn some letters.
There is a great wildlife area so we got to hear the birds chirping whilst being watchful for snakes.

We had a pit stop for a family game of boules. The  young one didn't get the idea and decided to grab the jack and run off with it.

We found all the eggs but the office had closed so we couldn't collect our prize. This means we have an excuse to go back and collect the boys mini eggs and kite - great prizes as there is always a breeze on the green area.

If course we had to stop for the compulsory ice-cream.

The beach is still showing signs of the battering it took from Mother Nature. There are parts which are cornered off for safety. Clean up teams are still working hard and doing a brilliant job. The sad sight of one of the big trees which had fallen in the storm but it does make for a great climbing frame.

The bench is getting a little closer to the edge!


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The school placement

Today was a day I was dreading it was the day we would find out what school O got into.

All our choices were out of catchment and I would have been happy with any of the choices but they were all over subscribed.

I worried that they would have put us in our catchment school,yes it is a good school, but there is no way I would send O there when he had already been labelled by the head.

Luckily I needn't worried the e-mail arrived and we got our FIRST choice! I couldn't be happier and I'm sure O will be really happy there.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Challenging tax credits

Back in 2013 when I went on maternity leave for L the husband also had to pay for a driver for work (no he wasn't drunk just epileptic.) Needless to say our wages dropped so we were eligible for some tax credits.

However after updating them about L's birth and approximate self employed earnings even though it was under the £10k increase the payment stopped. 

At the end of the tax year they said we had been overpaid. I challenged them because I knew I had updated them every step of the way and our earnings hadn't risen by more than £10,000. The person I spoke to argued that you can only have the £10k disregarded once - ever in your life! No where doe it state this in the small print or on line so appealed the £120 they were asking for.

The appeal was unsuccessful and they now said that we owed £220 and if we didn't pay it could increase and they would pass to debt collectors if I didn't repay. If I hadn't been 100% sure we were in the right I would have just paid it. However, I'm determined and hate it when people are taken advantage of and the threats of the debt increasing just riled me more.

I  called and spoke to various different people and eventually got through to someone who was actually listening to me. He explained that the income wasn't the issue, the fact that they only added L to the claim during the appeal despite me notifying them at the time of his birth wasn't the issue either. Apparently when they updated the reduced childcare costs for O they had taken out the costs from the start of the claim to that date. It was their issue and someone had found it. Not the appeal process but one of the many advisers I had spoken to.

The error was escalated to head office and what do you know I no longer owe them £220 but they actually owe us £880! Yes you read that right it was over a £1,000 difference and I was unsuccessful at the appeal only a few months previous.

I therefore urge you not to take any request from the tax credit office as gospel. If you have updated them on any changes and your income hasn't risen by more than £1,000 don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and if need be seek additional advice.

When I spoke to collections department informing them of the escalation they said I would still need to pay or I would incur late payment charges - my defence was it wasn't my error and any extra charges would be written off when the claim was recalculated.

I've noticed that there are no definitive guidelines available to the public so you can calculate what you are entitled to yourself. This makes me wonder if it's because they cock up a lot and don't want to arm us with the information to fight back