Don’t Miss Out On Your Childcare Entitlements

3 05 2013

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Image via Flickr creative commons from USACE Europe District

A series of entitlements and benefits are available to parents aimed at helping them throughout the time they spend bringing up children, from the ages of 0 to 18.

The best-known example – and during the period of its introduction and bedding-down, one of the most controversial, due to the fact that it replaced a variety of other benefits, and was seen as part of a government drive to get parents back to work – is the childcare tax credit.

Childcare tax credits are paid to single parents or couples who work at least 16 hours a week. Only one partner needs to work this minimum if the other partner is:

– ill or disabled

– in hospital, or

– in prison

Childcare tax credits are designed to pay directly for any childcare which is needed following the end of a period of either parent’s statutory leave.

As the cost of childcare is often seen as a disincentive which deters some parents from returning to work, the UK government has introduced an element of working tax credit, which is designed to meet some of the cost involved.

Parents who earn under a certain threshold can claim up to 70 per cent of the cost of their childcare, these figures being based on a maximum of £175 a week for one child, or £300 a week for two children or more.

The actual amount a single parent or couple receives is assessed on their individual or joint income, the number of hours they work, and the cost of the childcare needed.

Even though this benefit has only been available for a few years, it will be progressively replaced under the government’s plans to move all benefits over to what’s known as a Universal Credit, between 2013 and 2017.

The Universal Credit is designed to consolidate all benefits to which a claimant is entitled into a single monthly payment, comprising a standard allowance and top-ups for childcare.

The National Health Service provides a range of free treatment benefits for children until they reach their 17th birthday, but parents can again enhance the level of treatment received through a private healthcare plan.

A number of means of helping pay for the cost of childcare are also available through an employer, which include:

Co-op childcare vouchers, or similar schemes to which employers can contribute

– direct payment of childcare fees to the childcare provider, and

– a similar arrangement for payment of school fees

Payments are available in a range of other circumstances, which includes for parents who are in full-time higher education, and discretionary learner support which can be paid to parents aged 20 or over, who are studying in further education to help them meet childcare costs.

Young parents, aged under 20, can also apply for ‘Care to Learn’ payments which are paid directly to a childcare provider for the cost of their services.

Even if a parent

When it comes to finding out what help is available, one of the best ways is to simply ask. If the costs for which someone is claiming are legitimate, and the services provided by an accredited person or organisation, the chances are that some form of financial help is available.

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