December 8 2013 Latest news:
Beth Wyatt, Reporter
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The most challenging decision for new mothers is, arguably, the question of whether to stay at home with their baby or return to work.
However, one Harold Wood mum had the opportunity wrenched away from her when she was made redundant during her maternity leave.
Nicki Hodgson, 42, will now be one of the 1.2 million parents to miss out on the government’s new childcare vouchers scheme, as it will predominantly benefit working families.
Nicki, who lives in Copperfields Way with partner Paul, 37, and six-month-old daughter Gracie, went on maternity leave from her insurance administration job in January, but was told in April her department was relocating to another part of the UK.
She said: “My answer was obviously no, so I have no job to go back to.
“I don’t see how I can be a stay at home mum for much longer, I’ll need to eventually find work.”
Nicki, who believes current part-time jobs cannot cover the cost of childcare, said parents like her are not given enough support from the government.
She added: “Stay-at-home mothers do want to go to work but not on a full-time basis, they would miss their child growing up.
“Even if I was earning we wouldn’t be eligible for the voucher scheme and I don’t think there is an incentive to go back to work.”
One mum who may take advantage of the scheme is Ruth Johnson, 42, who will be returning to her job at credit card payment company Streamline in March.
Ruth, who lives in Florence Close, Hornchurch, is currently on a six-month-long career break after son Edward, one, was born with a condition called developmental dysplasia of the hip.
He was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in November and had an operation in February.
Edward’s treatment was successfully completed a few days before his birthday in July.
Ruth, whose partner Chris Mitchell, 29, also lives in Hornchurch, said: “I wish I could win the lottery and stay at home with Edward.
“But I’m quite independent, so I don’t think I could be without a job and it is important for me to have a stable financial situation.”
Like most new mums, Ruth, who hopes to work four days a week, is dreading the pangs which will greet her when she says goodbye to Edward each day.
She said: “I went to visit some nurseries and burst into tears about 10 times.
“It’s just thinking about leaving him with someone else.
“But I want to give Edward a nice lifestyle and I think I also have a good work ethic to demonstrate to Edward - if you work hard you can achieve what you want.”
Like Ruth, Connie Clarke wished to carry on working after having her baby.
However, the 21-year-old was made redundant when she was pregnant, causing her to become a stay-at-home mum to eight-month-old Hayley.
Connie said: “There’s no support for us financially. I feel I would sometimes be better off being a single parent.
“It is unfair, we feel penalised for setting Hayley a good example.
“People don’t realise how hard bringing up a child is, no one can prepare you for it.”
Connie’s partner Tony Romm, 35, cannot receive tax benefits as he earns above the threshold and he believes the paternity pay awarded to fathers is inadequate.
The couple’s financial situation has led Connie to sign on for Jobseekers’ Allowance and look for evening jobs.
Tony added: “I feel they should do more to help parents back into work as some families need that additional income and companies should be more in touch by offering job share roles on full-time jobs.
“I feel those who have given up work to raise a child miss adult interaction.”
A 41-year-old man has been stabbed at an address in Harold Hill.