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I Just Want To Be A Dad

October 19, 2012

I got home from work today to find a letter from HMRC, informing me that from April 2013, the PAYE paperwork must be submitted every time a payment is made. At the moment, I pay the PAYE every three months and submit the paperwork once a year.

I am resentful of having to be an employer in the first place. I am an employer because I receive a direct payments package to pay a support worker to support my son. I needed help with being a carer and suddenly found myself becoming an employer in the process.

To begin with it wasn’t a problem. When we first received direct payments in 2005, the rules allowed the support worker to be self-employed. So, I used to give him a cheque once a month and left him to sort out his own tax and national insurance. Just the way, every other self-employed worker in the country is remunerated for their services. At the time, he was working with Steven for 5 hours a week, so it wasn’t an arduous process for either him or me. Somewhere along the way, HMRC decided that direct payment workers should be employed and therefore the parent or carer had to become an employer of the PA. Now that Steven has left school and needs support during the week, our direct payment package is now 36 hours per week and I have two workers sharing those hours. Not a huge workforce or payroll but time-consuming nonetheless.

It takes me two hours a month to do all the paperwork required; not only is there the HMRC paperwork to be completed but the LA want to see the records to and they have a different format for doing them. That may not sound like an awful lot of time, but bear in mind that I only have five hours each week when I’m not caring or working – I can think of a million things I’d rather be doing with that time other than sitting with my calculator and the headfuck that is the HMRC forms.

Employ a payroll company I hear you say – my LA offered to introduce me to one. I don’t know what things are like in other parts of the country but the two I approached locally charge for this service and I would be expected to find this payment out of the normal monthly direct payment package. Our package is very tightly calculated by the LA; it works out the exact hours of care Steven needs a week and pays for those hours. There is no slack and if I don’t use those 36 hours every week, I cannot save them up for something or use them for something else. If I did, the LA would claim the money back. In fact, once I’d been putting money aside to pay for a bank support worker to cover the normal DP worker’s holiday pay. I got  a bank statement and noticed that the money I’d saved had suddenly been withdrawn from my account. I checked with the bank and found the LA had gone into my account, checked the balance and without any warning, took back the £260 that I had saved to pay a reverse worker. I had to take the week off work as I didn’t have the funds left to pay for cover.

Anyway – payroll companies. I also found out from my local ones that as well as charging for doing the payroll, all they did was to calculate the tax and national insurance and then notify me of their calculations so that I could pay the workers and complete all the necessary paperwork. That didn’t feel like much of a service to me – I may resent it but I can work those figures out for myself. In a way, that’s the easy bit – it’s the paperwork that is so laborious.

Sorry – whinge over. I love the way that direct payments are sold to parents/carers as offering “choice and flexibility” but actually you can’t really chose not to have them as then you are left with nothing. And then, having been forced to make a Hobson’s choice, you get lumbered with having to do tax returns and LA account submissions.

I don’t want to be an employer; I just want to be a Dad.




From → Social Care

  1. Suzanne Hayes permalink

    Hi mark we were introduced to The Shaw Trust and they do all of our paperwork we have moved from Wales to Engand and his direct payments are a mess. They cannot decide what J needs and how to support us but I agree in Wales i had to send the accounts in every three months England want it every month i thought the idea for direct payments was so the person could decide how they wanted to spend the money Not so also respite has been cut by two weeks and before we had an amount based on cost of respite place now we get four weeks which will cover two weeks in the respite place he goes.

  2. Sheila Cameron permalink

    Hi Mark, having recently entered into the debacle that is DPs, I was concerned to see that your DPs don’t include an amount for Payroll services. In Sheffield, our child DPs include this and Employer Liability Insurance. Direct Payments are supposed to include all of the costs of employing a PA: payroll, employer liability insurance & CRB. New DP claimants here receive a list of Payroll services as part of the initial ‘pack’.
    I don’t imagine that my LA are being enlightened: merely adhering to the proper funding framework.

    I am more worried by the LA ‘checking the balance’ of your DP designated bank account. How have they got past security? They are not legally entitled to do so. They are not a co-holder of the account. Have they used the information they have as to your date of birth etc.? It sounds like a breach of the Data Protection Act on the LA’s part and a failure by your bank to maintain security. If you think so, put a password on the bank account as soon as you can.
    Not the first comment I wanted to make on your blog, but I am very worried about this for everyone in receipt of DPs, but especially yourself in view of your situtation.

  3. Sheila Cameron permalink

    Also very bothered by your hours expiring if they are not used during the week. This is not the case here…we are allowed to carry hours to following weeks. For example if my son’s PA has exams or if he is ill with his other condition. Steven might be ill to the extent that only you could care for him. How could you offer to work in the following weeks (putatively )to compensate for that time lost without using PA hours. You don’t have any legal protection in employment for even taking time off to start with.
    Sorry that these are the first comments I’ve made on your blog. I have the utmost respect for your dignity in your situation and enjoy the swear words.

  4. Why should they force you to be an employer in the first place. Its not you who needs the service but your son, so they are forcing you to take on an additional responsibility -which isnt actually directly benefiting your son, but is just an adminstrative headache for you but your son doesn’t get the care he needs if you dont take it on.

    This direct payments nonsense is dreadful.

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