Budget 1999: Case Study: The Lone Parent - Little change, but I'm not unhappy with my new lot

Sylvia Hayhoe, 45, from Carlisle. She works part-time as an administrative assistant and takes home pounds 723 a month. She receives pounds 15 a week in maintenance from her ex-husband and pounds 10 a week in family credit, plus pounds 17.10 in child benefit and lone parent benefit. She has a son, Simon, aged 15.

MRS HAYHOE said that there was little in the Budget that will affect her. She works 32 hours a week and is therefore ineligible for the working tax credit.

And unless her son stays in full-time education she is also likely to miss out on the child allowance tax credit which does not come into effect until 2001 when he will be 17.

"I think I will be slightly better off because of the 10 per cent tax band. It will be about pounds 3 a week but every little helps," she said.

"I just miss out on everything. When they said you could have help with child care for a child under 12, he was 13 and now he will probably be too old for the child benefit changes."

After paying her rent of pounds 156 a month and all her bills, Mrs Hayhoe is left with about pounds 150. Out of that she has to buy food and clothes and run the car.

"I'm hoping my Peugeot 106 counts as a small car because the tax going down by pounds 55 is a lot of money and that will make a difference. Petrol is going up but I only drive about 8,000 miles a year which is below average so I don't think it will make a huge difference.

"I don't drink or smoke so I won't be affected by that which is good."

She is about to buy a house for the first time and her fixed rate mortgage, which works out about pounds 10 a month less than her rent, will not be affected by any changes in the interest rates.

"On the whole I think this Budget is all right but I would like to see the changes come in sooner, particularly the child benefit.

"But it is good for pensioners and children, even though that doesn't affect me."