Pick of the news

Do you know how much your friends earn?

As a journalist I’ve always found many people will talk readily and openly about their sex lives, their relationship issues, trying for a baby, and intimate details about their health… But one issue was always taboo – how much money people earn. Pick of the news

Not any more! The Daily Mail has recently been running a series of personal pieces written by writers about child benefit ( or family allowance as it used to be called.) Currently it is paid to everyone who has a child. But in case you’re not aware, under new rules coming into force in January if one parent earns more than £50,000 a family waves goodbye to a proportion of their child benefit. And those with a salary of £60,000 will lose it completely.

Some feel that those earning this should not get the benefit as they don’t need it whereas other people believe parents child allowance is the one benefit that everyone should receive.

As my children are now aged 21, 22, and 24, I wouldn’t get it anyway (it is only paid up until your child is 18 and in full time education.) But one of the more fascinating aspects over a number of recent articles in The Daily Mail has been the revelation not only just how much the author of a piece earns, but also their spouse and their outgoings.

Perhaps I’m really nosey but it’s been interesting to learn that writer and mum of three Helen Carroll earns £30,000 a year, her husband, Dillon, a university lecturer with three degrees and a doctorate (blimey!) earns nudging £50,000 a year. Meanwhile the breakdown of her outgoings (impressively itemised – I must do the same) are mortgage (interest only): £8500 a year, £4500 on utilities including energy and the phone, £12,000 on groceries, £2,500 on insurances, £2,500 on council tax and £3,600 on loan repayments. Petrol is £1,800 a year, school dinners £920 a year, school trips £300 a year and after-school activities £1000 a year.

Last week journalist and mum of one Antonia Hoyle, who is pregnant, said she and her husband, a financial analyst, both earn over £50,000 a year. While broadcaster and journalist Angela Epstein, who has four children, earns £50,000 a year and her chartered accountant husband’s salary ‘is significantly more.’

Meanwhile, Shona Sibary, a mum of four and also a writer, wrote that: “I confess that my husband Keith, who works in sales, and I earn even more than Angela and her other half.”

I am not sure whether this makes journalism look well paid or not so well paid? Or if this is the usual amount for a freelance writer to make? I suppose it depends. To most commenters on the Daily Mail website it is a huge amount of money and no-one can understand why anyone can’t live on it (and without their child benefit). But presumably if you work in the City or you’re a premier-league footballer, it doesn’t look much.

Whatever, although this child benefit issue doesn’t affect me, it’s all been a really interesting couple of weeks reading! And well done to these articles for breaking down a barrier – talking about what you earn is no longer taboo…

Read More: Top Tips: Writing about Yourself

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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