Insight into financial status of Karen

Shannon Matthews went missing on her way home from school on the 19th February 2008, Shannon lived in Dewsbury with her Mother and Step Father. Please discuss

UPDATE Shannon Matthews Found Alive 14th March 2008

Insight into financial status of Karen

Postby icesugar » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:18 am

Can anyone give me any insight into how much money Karen Matthews and her kids were living on? And what kind of salary would Craig Meehan be on as a fishmonger?

I am trying very hard, to grasp how difficult life was for Karen, especially since she is always wearing the same grey/black striped sweater & jeans (and bomber jacket). Also, she only seems to have 2 or 3 school photos of Shannon and some birthday shots. Shannons teeth look like they have never been brushed (sorry to be so blunt here)..................
the only good thing is that Shannon always looked ecstatically happy in her 3 photographs.

please someone out there, tell me that Britain does not raise kids as badly as this?
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Re: Insight into financial status of Karen

Postby Miss Take » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:12 am

Finances really don't matter. But to answer your question first:

Meehan, I remember reading, worked in Morrison's on the fish counter, so not a proper fishmonger as such. He'd most likely have been on the minimum wage.

To top this up the family would have received child tax credit and possibly working tax credit. I assume that the house was rented and therefore they would probably have received help towards the cost of the rent, though I can't see they'd have had the full whack paid. The same would go for council tax entitlement.

She'd have been in receipt of child benefit for the four children she had living with her and paying maintenance for the three that didn't, whilst also in receipt of maintenance for the three children that were with her but their fathers were elsewhere.


I have been in this position (granted not with kids all over the place, but the council estate and minimum wage thing). I can assure you that my children were clean and tidy then as they are now. They were well brought up, as they are now. This though, is less to do with class and more to do with the poor standards of the family as a whole. Whether this is more prevalent on a council estate I don't know, I'd like to say it's not but I do believe it is. It is poorly educated people stuck in a system that offers them no way out that causes the huge problems in these micro-societies.

I remember many moons ago when I was on a council estate having the neighbour's kids in to play with mine. The then-hubby was sat reading a book and their four year old stared and stared at him, unable to understand what he was doing. The child had never seen a book before.

There was lots of examples of this sort of thing, but at the same time there were many, many parents like me who still upheld standards, regardless of what was in the bank. Put simply, I now live in a very middle-class village, have much more than I could have ever hoped for back then and the kids have made the transition with no problem. While top of the class all the time in the old days, they are still in top class but they don't shine quite as well. I can only assume that homes where books are available and so forth give kids that aren't in these conditions a better start in life.

It's an ever decreasing circle. If you come from a home like Shannon does, then that life is what is normal. There are no aspirations to knuckle down at school because the underlying message and belief is that University, a good education and a decent job aren't for people like you. You are trapped in the system and in a strange way, because you know it, the system is safe.
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Re: Insight into financial status of Karen

Postby farfromthe... » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:34 am

Great post.
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Re: Insight into financial status of Karen

Postby icesugar » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:15 am

Miss Take wrote:Finances really don't matter. But to answer your question first:

Meehan, I remember reading, worked in Morrison's on the fish counter, so not a proper fishmonger as such. He'd most likely have been on the minimum wage.

To top this up the family would have received child tax credit and possibly working tax credit. I assume that the house was rented and therefore they would probably have received help towards the cost of the rent, though I can't see they'd have had the full whack paid. The same would go for council tax entitlement.

She'd have been in receipt of child benefit for the four children she had living with her and paying maintenance for the three that didn't, whilst also in receipt of maintenance for the three children that were with her but their fathers were elsewhere.


I have been in this position (granted not with kids all over the place, but the council estate and minimum wage thing). I can assure you that my children were clean and tidy then as they are now. They were well brought up, as they are now. This though, is less to do with class and more to do with the poor standards of the family as a whole. Whether this is more prevalent on a council estate I don't know, I'd like to say it's not but I do believe it is. It is poorly educated people stuck in a system that offers them no way out that causes the huge problems in these micro-societies.

I remember many moons ago when I was on a council estate having the neighbour's kids in to play with mine. The then-hubby was sat reading a book and their four year old stared and stared at him, unable to understand what he was doing. The child had never seen a book before.

There was lots of examples of this sort of thing, but at the same time there were many, many parents like me who still upheld standards, regardless of what was in the bank. Put simply, I now live in a very middle-class village, have much more than I could have ever hoped for back then and the kids have made the transition with no problem. While top of the class all the time in the old days, they are still in top class but they don't shine quite as well. I can only assume that homes where books are available and so forth give kids that aren't in these conditions a better start in life.

It's an ever decreasing circle. If you come from a home like Shannon does, then that life is what is normal. There are no aspirations to knuckle down at school because the underlying message and belief is that University, a good education and a decent job aren't for people like you. You are trapped in the system and in a strange way, because you know it, the system is safe.


Thanks a lot, that was a great answer. I am glad you are so happy in your life now, it just goes to show that nobody has to stay where they are if they don't want to.
Congratulations, I hope more people read your story, it is motivating. x
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Re: Insight into financial status of Karen

Postby Miss Take » Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:44 pm

icesugar wrote:
Thanks a lot, that was a great answer. I am glad you are so happy in your life now, it just goes to show that nobody has to stay where they are if they don't want to.
Congratulations, I hope more people read your story, it is motivating. x


It takes a lot to motivate people. I used to do a lot of work with the community when I was on the estate and people really, honestly didn't understand the big wide world. They understand benefits and how to survive on the cheap, but they really don't get how to get out.

I remember a friend approaching me, I was about to start teacher training, and he decided he too wanted to teach. How he came to the conclusion, I don't know, but he thought he could do 12 weeks in evening classes to qualify. This is how far removed many of these people are from reality. When I spoke to him about minimum GCSEs and 'A'Levels etc, before he even got to the university stage he only became cross because he wasn't thick and he could teach. He sure wasn't thick, but like most in the area left school with next to nothing in the way of qualifications. When you see your parents cope on benefits and low wages, you perceive that as contentment and happiness and have no aspirations to do any better. It's not until these kids grow up that they realise life is actually really hard and by then they simply can't afford to be re-educated. Of course, while they struggle to give their kids the best and to enjoy life to the best they can, their kids are watching and thinking that this is how life works.

The system does little to help either. I have been in a situation where when I was in my previous marriage, we'd have been better off if my ex didn't work. Money is often 'given' away in order to help the poorer people, and I have myself applied for these grants when things have been tough. It does though give the message that you don't need to do anything, just ask for it and you have a right to it, the government owe you. (I never believed this, but there are many who do.)

The other things you see are how having children actually allows more money into the house. The more children you have, the better off you are, and consequently for many struggling families, having another child is a financial decision. As you can imagine, having a baby for financial reasons isn't exactly a promising start for a new life.

There were things like classes available cheaply in the area, allowing those who were unemployed or mothers (a free creche would be provided) to take a class. Unfortunately, the classes were never of real benefit to those wishing to escape the trap. There was glass painting, interior decorating, cake decorating and so forth, the assumption being that GCSEs or A Levels would either not be taken or that those in the area simply couldn't cope with them.

No way out is offered and for so many, to remain in the system is a much easier alternative than years and years of huge hardship when they finally realise that they need to escape to succeed. But by then they have families to feed and debts to pay. It can't be done.
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