I was awarded an amazing opportunity to undertake a masters followed by a PhD fully funded including a monthly tax free stipend. That same year I had my son.
Owing to restrictions in how maternity leave could be taken within my funding, I completed my masters full time with a baby only asking for extensions on one set of assignments as they were scheduled directly after my emergency c-section.
Within three months of having my son, we headed into lockdown and I lost all my support, completing my masters in my son’s naps. I achieved a Merit overall which is completely respectable but I often wonder if I would have gotten the distinction if I would have had the support I needed.
When I started the PhD component my son was 8 months old, my personal support system was still impacted by covid and I needed at least one childfree day to work. We sent our son to nursery 1 day a week at much personal expense, to be honest I really needed more but we couldn’t afford more. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer we pushed ourselves into debt so he could go a second day, allowing me 2 days a week to do 5 days worth of work and care for my mum. At this time we had no awareness of the tax free childcare system, but when we moved house we changed nurseries and they informed us. I was excited at first, this was a way to make things more affordable if only marginally so.
Fast forward to today and the reason I felt the need to write this despite it just being the last in a long line of struggles. Today we were messaged to be told we do not qualify for tax free childcare as I do not earn enough to meet the threshold. This makes no sense as my stipend is above minimum wage and for full time hours so more than the required 16 hours a week. Upon ringing we were told that as it is not taxed it can not be classed as income making us ineligible, this is not on their page for eligibility.
I am deemed to not be working despite being paid for full time hours. I have to complete these full time hours in much less owing to the fact that a mere 2 days of nursery costs more than my mortgage. Oh and this stipend I receive? It is funded by the government as my research is deemed worthy enough to have an impact.
Not sure if this is the right place but I am just so angry!