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You can rant and moan and protest all you like about the changes to the child benefit system announced this week, but nothing’s going to stop them from happening.
Really, it is the principle of the whole thing that ultimately is upsetting most people. Not just the chosen cut-off point for qualification but the fact that child benefit was once there for every child in the country, regardless of background. What next? Will kids be made to pay for cancer treatment on the NHS just because their parents are rich?
What is certain is that there is going to be one main beneficiary from this latest cutback.
Poundland is brilliant. It does exactly what it says on the tin – perhaps the only pound shop chain in existence where everything is still just a pound.
The other day I was tipped off by the bloke who runs the village shop that Poundland had suddenly got a huge shipment of Hallowe’en costumes on its shelves all for only, well, a pound each.
Now last year we went to a well known supermarket for our Hallowe’en get-up and accessories and must have spent close to fifty quid. The other day a friend of ours paid seven pounds per costume at another.
But after we had raided Poundland for various masks and make-up and pumpkin lights and horror sweets, the total at the checkout was just 20 quid. And we’d picked up a few sneaky Christmas presents along the way.
Bargain is an understatement. OK, the quality may not be brilliant but they only ever wear these outfits for one night and in fact my three year old son generally tries to remove any items of fancy dress within ten minutes of having them put on.
So now, especially in light of the child benefit cuts, I wish to spread the word about Poundland. It’s brilliant and there to be used by everybody.
Then there is Freecycle. Freecycle is also brilliant.
Quite by coincidence, yesterday morning my wife, ever vigilant for a free deal, contacted someone on Freecycle who was offering a swingball. Ala,s it had no ball or string but that’s easily fixed.
Moreover, it didn’t matter. Soon the Freecycle lady was bringing out all manner of Barbie and Ken cars from her garage for us to have. They just need a quick clean up and they’ll make brilliant presents for the kids. At five and three, the kids aren’t too bothered if anything is a bit battered or bruised – though I fear this might be our last year that we’ll truly be able to get away with it.
This wasn’t a one off by the way. In fact it was far from our greatest Freecycle haul. Last year we got a slide and some bikes, the year before we got my daughter a dolls house. It can be a virtual gold mine if you are quick off the mark.
The same can be said for discount supermarkets. Even if you are one of those people who have tried it and felt too much like you are an extra in the opening scene of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I urge you to go there again just to stock up on Christmas treats.
You won’t recognise any of the brands of praline sea shell chocolates or luxury biscuits or after dinner mints but I guarantee they will be just as good as those that you are used to, if not better.
So there you go, Cameron and co. Bring on your cuts to us parents. We have Poundland, Freecycle and discount supermarkets on our side. Not to mention charity shops and boot sales. What do you have on yours?
Not a particularly good think tank, it seems. Otherwise it would have advised, as I am sure I have mentioned in this blog before, that actually parents are one of the main driving forces for our economy. After all, we always have to buy something for the kids.
I am convinced this is how many families are going to make savings this year and once they reap the benefits of their thriftiness they won’t be going back to their old ways in a hurry.
I daresay some are already doing it. The child benefit cuts will make people less likely to fritter away their hard earnt pennies in the high street. Less disposable income for us to spend in local stores. We’ll look to free days out, meal deals, money off vouchers, and, of course, branches of Poundland.
Poundland may not sell the highest quality merchandise but it will be enough to see us through. Enough to keep our kids happy for the time it takes to get bored. And Poundland will do well in the process. All other businesses with mums as their main market, alas, will face more uncertainty in the next few years. And who knows when that will end, if ever?
The next headline on the news after the child benefit story was a major supermarket showing off their record profits for the last 12 months. Then some company director was interviewed about how they’d done it and they gave a few reasons for their success: oh, you know, the saving schemes, the in-store promotions and initiatives, staff motivation, la-de-dah.
Who knows maybe that will be the boss of Poundland being interviewed in a few years. And what is your secret, the breakfast TV presenter will ask? Well, the slightly bemused company director will reply, everything’s a pound, isn’t it?
And for those of you thinking but I won’t have to go to Poundland or charity shops, it’s only a hundred quid a month, we’ll be ok, then why the furore over child benefit cuts? It’s just a matter of principle for many people rather than about the money itself.
Face it, nothing is going to change the government’s mind on the policy or get them to revise it. A handful of MPs have already become quite tetchy with the media when pushed on this point. The planned mummy march on Westminster is just a waste of time and baby-changing facilities will be limited.
No, the best thing to do is join the Poundland brigade and adopt their cost-cutting philosophy. At the very least it will be fun, at the very most it will be a life-changing experience. I’m just not altogether convinced how the country as a whole is going to benefit in the long term.