To rent or not to rent – this is not the question

As a 28 year old graduate living in London I am stuck in an indefinite rut of having to rent instead of buy. I’m on an ok-ish salary as is my partner, who is 30 this year, yet we are in no position to even save for a deposit let alone be granted a mortgage from the over restrictive banks of the moment. An average flat is currently £228, 681 in our area of SE London, but if we were to be granted a mortgage we would only be able to get 3 times our joint income totalling £165,000. Forget the fact that we would have to somehow save a 10% deposit of £16,500 (over half of my annual salary), but where would we find the remaining £63,681? We could of course move further out of London, however travel costs (which could then affect the mortgage we could afford) would then be an issue in addition to commuting time.

It is all well and good eliminating stamp duty on properties up to £250k for first time buyers, but we can’t even get over the first hurdle of affording a property in the first place. What the government should be looking into; is increasing tax on ‘buy to let’ investments in order to stop the out pricing of properties for first time buyers. What happens very often is an investor is happy to pay whatever and offers a higher amount than the asking price in order to get it and then lets it out at a high amount. Commonly entire blocks of flats are being bought immediately after being built and let out. This artificially increases the cost of properties and in addition increases the cost of renting in the market too. If the government really wants to get the economy moving again they need to back 100% mortgages for first time buyers and put a new policy in place preventing investors from outbidding hard working people who are just trying to make it in the world.

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Working to pay for childcare…

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I am feeling well and truly underwhelmed by last week’s budget. What has actually changed for us normal folk? Yes, they are putting more money into a Home Equity scheme but one must still provide a 5% deposit – in London that still means a minimum of £10k (and the rest). And what is the big deal about this apparent overhaul of the childcare vouchers? It is going to do absolutely nought for women on a middle salary working in London. I would be able to claim up to £1200 towards childcare over the entire year, but based on the £85 a day nursery costs in London, working 5 days a week and minus the 4 weeks holiday a year, I would need to find another £19k to cover the rest of the year. On my salary I would already be in negative equity before then having to pay for travel to work. This would then mean that unless I get a massive pay rise or the government do something about the ridiculous childcare costs, that women are going to continue to drop out of the work place.

Other countries across Europe, the government has either put a cap on the amount a childcare provider can demand or the childcare is subsidised. In Spain, working mums pay around €250 a month for a nursery placement. Owners of nurseries in the UK are raking in the money. They pay their staff minimum wage whilst charging their clients full whack thus providing a nice high margin for their already full pockets. I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the governments reluctance to stick their ore in. As with the energy companies, the government need to get involved and put a cap on what customers and mums should be expected to pay. How is it right for a nursery to charge more than the UK average wage in childcare?

How the EU works; 01

HOW THE EU WORKS 01.jpg

The European Commission (EC) is the executive body of the EU responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU.

The European Parliament (EP) is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the EU.

The Council of Ministers is the third of the seven institutions of the EU as listed in the Treaty on European Union.The Council meets in 10 different configurations of 28 national ministers (one per state) dependent on the topic being discussed, the relevant minister for each state will attend.

 

 

Weaning stage one, the puréed veggies

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Since my last blog on the subject, Lola has now tried carrot, butternut squash, parsnip, pears and baby porridge. As with the baby rice I have given her one ‘meal’ a day in addition to her usual milk feeds, this still usually consists of around a few mouthfuls. I gave her each food in the order above for 3 days each before moving on to the next one to eliminate any possible allergies as Lola has eczema (as does her father, so it is in the family).

Carrots went OK, she just seemed a little confused, see video here. She loved the butternut squash, the parsnips were met with a wretch and she loved the pears (unsurprisingly). I purposely introduced her to sweet vegetables before fruit as babies have a sweet tooth and I didn’t want her to only want the yummy sweet fruit and not the nutritional veggies. As Lola is now 5 months, as of this week I have started giving her 2 ‘meals’ a day; creamy baby porridge for breakfast and a fruit or veg for lunch.

It is up to you whether you decide to use jars/pouches or make your own food, the ready made products are generally organic and sugar/salt free so don’t feel like you shouldn’t be using them. There are also so many helpful utensils now to help with making your own baby food easily. The best purchase we have made in this regard is the Tommee Tippee steamer blender, it is a-mazing! One literally chops the veg/fruit and sticks it in the blender jug on the appropriate setting and voilà, 20mins later you have perfectly steamed and puréed baby food ready to give to your baby. It can then be put into individual pots and/or pouches and either refrigerated for up to 48hours or frozen. As your baby progresses along the weaning stages, the food can be blended a little less, leaving it a bit more chunky until they are eating everything the same as us.

The plan is to continue introducing new fruits and veggies and then when Lola is 6 months we will introduce a third meal at tea/dinner time. During this process, she will be having her normal amount of milk. Once she is eating 3 meals a day and more than a few mouthfuls at a time, we will then slowly start to reduce her milk feeds in line with recommended guidelines. I will write about the next stage in a few weeks time, in the mean time I have included some links below to products that we have bought and are finding useful on our weaning journey.

Helpful Links

Reusable baby food pouches

Pouch spoons (these attach to the pouches for ease when out and about)

Baby food freezer pots