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With so much focus on bad news we thought we'd try and cheer you up by focusing on the good stuff. See our articles below and we hope to cheer up your day.

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Mummy Blogger Part 3: a win some, lose some Budget

(You can read part 2 of the LV= Mummy Blogger here)

Thursday 31 March 2016

In a sleepless world of nappies, feeds and preparing for mock GCSEs (my teen; not me!), time is whizzing past. Is it really time for a budget again already?

  • Big win for under 40s
  • Sweetener for schools
  • Bit of give and take
A mum with children drinking juice

Big win for under 40s

It was George Osborne’s third budget in 12 months. So, what do the announcements have in store for families this time? Or, more specifically, how much will I need to save, or need to spend?

Well, the first big announcement that caught my eye was the Lifetime ISA for under 40s. As a thirty-something with savings but no pension, the Lifetime ISA sounds promising.

Under new plans you can now save £4k each year and get £1k from the government to spend on either a pension or first home. Wow, free money! But alas, the small print says you only qualify if you are under-40 by April 2017 – three months after my big four-oh.

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So, good news for some, but not for me – or for many others. With so many of us living longer, does 40 really mean over the hill? I think everyone deserves a chance to save for his or her future.

As one mum friend commented: “Where does that leave us early 40-somethings who can’t afford to save much and haven’t managed to get on the housing ladder yet?”

Hmm, good point. Sadly, I think ‘with no help at all’ is the answer.

For those who can apply, however, it could be very good news indeed, especially if you save the maximum amount for a married couple.


Sweetener for schools?

The announcement that all schools are going to turn into academies seems to have raised more questions among parents I spoke to. Mum-of-two blogger, Julia Bryson, who writes rainbeaubelle.com, is concerned that schools could be turned into businesses.

“It’s taking the control of our schools out of local hands and back to central government,” she says. “It also allows schools to pick and choose which pupils they have which might not be fair. Schools could be run like a business, with their own budgets.”

While the jury is out as to whether academies will be better for our kids, there’s no doubt teacher shortages have affected many schools. At my daughter’s school three good teachers have left during GCSE year already!

Next up is the sugar tax on fizzy drinks, something lots of mums think is a good idea, including Julia.

“The best news is that the money raised from the tax is going back into our schools and children’s sports activities,” she says. “This can only be a good thing!”

As parents, it’s tough trying to curb the relentless tide of sugar in our diets, especially as kids grow older! Although finding out how much sugar is in our drinks is easier than ever thanks to apps like the NHS’s Sugar Smart App. For example nine teaspoons in any drink sounds gross, but that’s just average for a can of coke.

What concerns me next, however, is what will the sugar be replaced with? Artificial sweeteners might not be good for our health either.

As another mum pointed out, why should just soft drinks be the target? Fruit juice is also full of sugar that rots teeth and is full of calories. However, as Julia says, it’s worth focusing on the positives, and money for our schools can only be a bonus.


Bit of Give and Take

Less positive news was reading how the Insurance Premium tax would rise in October from 9.5% to 10%. For years I saw my car insurance creep up annually until I moved out of London to Brighton, when it dropped for the first time.

The news that the tax on many types of insurance will go up is disappointing (although I was pleased to see the money is going to help victims of recent floods). Thankfully, life insurance is exempt, which reminds me, we must sort some out!

Petrol duty is to stay the same, which is good news for basic household bills. Also, the news that self-employed workers (like me) will no longer have to pay Class 2 National insurance contributions (currently £2.80 per week) if they make a profit of £5,965 or more a year could save me around £100 a year.

The Budget was a mixed one for me as a working mum. We’ve just lost out on the exciting ISA, but might have saved a little elsewhere. I won’t stop playing the Lottery any time soon then.


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