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FAQs - Benefits & Welfare Rights

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In this section of the website you will find frequently asked questions about particular issues or situations that affect children and young people and their parents. It is hoped that the answers to these questions will offer people useful information and advice, including links to other websites where appropriate.
What are tax credits?
Tax credits are payments from the government to help with everyday costs. If you are responsible for at least one child or young person who normally lives with you, you may be eligible for Child Tax Credit. If you work or earn low wages, you may be eligible for Working Tax Credit.

Tax credit isnt actually a tax, its money that you receive regularly and you dont even have to be a taxpayer yourself.

For more information you can ring the tax credits helpline on 0800 731 9133 or visit www.hmrc.gov.uk


Can I claim for Child Tax Credit?
Nine out of ten families with children qualify. How much you get depends on things like:
  • How many children or qualifying young people live with you.
  • Whether child living with you is disabled
  • Your income
Anyone whos mainly responsible for a child can claim you dont need to be a parent. If you share responsibility with a spouse or partner that you live with, you must claim together whether married or not. If you share responsibility with someone that doesnt live with you, you must decide between who has main responsibility Only the family with main responsibility can claim Child Tax Credit.
For more information on tax credits you can call the tax credits helpline on 0800 731 9133 or visit website www.hmrc.gov.uk


Can I claim Working Tax Credit?
If youre in work but on low pay, you can apply for working tax credit to top up your earnings. You can claim this whether you employed or self-employed and you may get extra if:
  • Youre a parent or responsible for one or more children
  • You pay for childcare
  • Someone in your household is disabled.
  • For more information you can call the tax credits helpline on 0800 731 9133 or visit the website www.hmrc.gov.uk/childcare



Do I qualify for Income support?
Income support is only paid to people who dont have to sign on as unemployed. You may be a single parent or unfit for work.. It could be that you can get income support on its own or to top up other benefits or earnings from part time work.

There are some situations in which income support is paid; you can find out more by asking an independent benefits advisors or by getting leaflet ISI from
From you local benefits agency. Some example or situations where people can get income support are:
  • single parents
  • people not able to work e.g. because of sickness or disability or because they are looking after someone who can't take care of themselves
  • women expecting a baby within 11 weeks or have had a baby within the last 7 weeks or are sick because of their pregnancy
  • some 16-17 year olds in education (e.g. in some situations if you had to move out of your parents home or just left care or have no parent who can support you). In some cases to supplement a training course or modern apprenticeship allowance.
For more information go to: www.direct.gov.uk/en/YoungPeople/index.htm


What is a Child Trust Fund?
The Child Trust Fund is a long term savings investment account for children. The Government has introduced the Child Trust Fund to ensure your child has savings at the age of 18 and:
to help your child get into the habit of saving
teach your child about the benefits of saving
help your child understand personal finance
see website for more information www.gov.uk/child-trust-funds/overview


Where can I open a Child Trust Fund Account?
For information on providers where you can open your Child Trust Fund please see website www.gov.uk/child-trust-funds/overview


Is my child eligible for child trust fund?
Children born on or after 1 September 2002 are eligible for the child trust fund. Will automatically receive voucher to start their account. The account belongs to child and can't be touched until they turn 18, so that children have some money behind them to start their adult life. For more information see website www.gov.uk/child-trust-funds/overview


What are my Paternity Leave Rights?
If you've worked for your employer before your partners pregnancy began you probably have the right to paid paternity leave providing you meet certain conditions. For more information visit www.direct.gov.uk


What Maternity Leave will I get?
As an 'employee' you have the right to 26 weeks of 'ordinary maternity leave' and 26 weeks 'additional maternity leave' making one year in total. Providing you meet certain notification requirements you can take this no matter how long you've been with your employer, how many hours you work or how much you're paid. The maternity leave entitlement is increasing to 39 weeks from April for babies born on or after this date. For more information visit www.direct.gov.uk


Am I entitled to a Maternity Grant?
You can get a Sure Start Maternity Grant if you or your partner are getting:
Income Support
Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
Pension Credit
Child Tax Credit at a higher rate than family element or
Working Tax Credit where a disability elemnt is included in the award

If you are on a qualifying benefit, you can claim at any time from 11 weeks before the first day of the week before the baby is due, until 3 months after the day that the baby was born. If you are likely to qualify for a grant but not yet on a qualifying benefit do not put off claiming as the time limits are strict.

You can claim this grant on form SF100 Sure Start which you can get from your local jobcentreplus office.
Details are also availabe at the DWP-Maternity Section by visiting website www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk


How can I find out about Child Benefit?
Child Benefit is for children under 16 years of age. Its non-taxable and you can get it no matter how much you earn, although if you're claiming benefits this could affect your payments.
For more information visit www.dfes.gov.uk/parents


I'm claiming benefits but would like to get a job. Will my benefits be affected if I start work?
It's quite possible that they will, yes. Most, but not all, benefits for unemployment stop when you start working for more than 16 hours. There are other benefits though that are not related to your working status. While it is very important to let the jobcentre and council know if your circumstances change, starting work does not necessarily put an end to benefits. Some benefits, such as working tax credit, are only available to people who are in work. Housing and council tax benefit can be claimed by people in work.

For more information you can call the Welfare Rights Advice Line - Redcar and Cleveland - 01642 771198 or visit www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk/welfare

Contact your local jobcentre for advice you'll need about what benefit you are entitled to or visit website www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk


Where can I find out more about funding for Further Education or training?
See the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) website for help on the different kinds of financial and other help that may be available to you.
Visit www.dfes.gov.uk/financialhelp


I am a single parent who is looking to return to work, is there any financial support I can claim for help with childcare costs?
There are a variety of extended schools in your area that offer breakfast and after school clubs. The Children's Information Service can explain what is available , where, timings and costs.
If the childcare is registered with Ofsted and you are already in receipt of the working tax credit, you are entitled to claim the childcare element of working tax credits which is up to £175 per week for 1 child and £300 for 2 or more children, and the maximum proportion of costs that can be claimed is 80%. You should ring the tax credits helpline on 0845 300 3900 so they can work out your full entitlement. You will need to give them your income, address details etc


I am on benefits and am struggling to afford new furniture - who can help?
You may be able to get help from the Social Fund for important costs that are hard to pay for out of your regular income.
Help includes community care grants, crisis loans, budgeting loans, Sure Start Maternity Grants.
For more information on these contact your local jobcentre or visit www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/JCP/Customers/WorkingAgeBenefits
Settlement Furniture Services (Middlesbrough) provide low cost furniture and white goods for people on benefits. Telephone 01642 463862 Monday - Thursday 9.30am - 4.30pm, Friday 9.30am - 4.00pm. Must be by referral by a statutory or voluntary organisation.


Am I entitled to any benefits now that I am pregnant?
If you are expecting a baby, there are a number of helpful benefit schemes that could help you financially, however, eligibility differs for each individual scheme.

Statutory Maternity Pany (SMP) - visit www.direct.gov.uk
Maternity Allowance (MA) - visit www.direct.gov.uk
Child Tax Credits - visit www.direct.gov.uk
Sure Start Maternity Grant - http://www.direct.gov.uk
Healthy Eating Scheme - visit http://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/


What is an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are nationally recognised training programmes for 16-124 year olds who have left full-time educaiton or are already in employment.
They offer young people the opportunity to learn on-the-job with the employer, developing knowledge and skills and gaining qualifications. Apprenticeships include an NVQ qualification, key skills and some cases a Technical Certificate. On an apprenticeship the learner will train to NVQ Level 2 within a work place this will take about 12 months to complete.

Advanced apprenticeships train to a level 3 (supervisory) while they are working full-time and getting a wage. This usually takes up to two to three years to completed depending on the programme.
With a Programme Led Apprenticeship the Learner start the Key Skills andTechnical Certificate and also undertakes work experience with an Employer, before moving onto a full Apprenticeship. For more information on Apprenticeships, go to www.apprenticeships.org.uk.


What is Entry to Employment (e2e)?
Entry to Employment is a learning programme which is aimed at young people aged 16-18 who are not participating in any post 16 learning. It is designed to help develop motivation, confidence, personal effectiveness and basic key skills. It gives a range of opportunities to gain vocational knowledge, skills and understanding. The aim is that the young person will progress onto an Apprenticeship programme, further learning and/or a job.
For further information visit www.tvwbl.net


What is work based learning (WBL)?
Work Based Learning will allow young people to achieve valuable qualifications at the same time as gaining relevant practical experience in real work situations. On leaving school they can enter WBL either through an Entry to Employment (e2e) programme or an Apprenticeship (depending on what qualifications they gain at school.)

There are several different types of WBL: Entry to Employment (e2e), Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships.


Whilst doing an Apprenticeship or Entry to Employment will I be paid?
You will be entitled to Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). It is not a wage but money to purchase books, equipment etc. EMA is subject to eligibility and the weekly payment of £10, £20 or £30 a week is dependent on household income. To get EMA the young person needs to be aged between 16 and 19 and have left compulsory education.
- They will need to be thinking about starting a full-time education course at a College or School
- Joining an LSC-funded Entry to Employment (e2e) programme; or
- Starting a Programme Led Apprenticeship
Young people should apply for EMA as soon as possible so they don't lose out on payments. To apply for EMA you need to complete an application form, these can be obtained from School,


Can I get help with childcare costs?
If you are a working parent with children under the age of 16, you could be eligible to request non-taxable and exempt from National Insurance Contribution Childcare Vouchers up to the value of £55 per week (£243 per month).
Childcare vouchers can be used to pay for the following forms of registered childcare; day nurseries, childminders, before and after school clubs, au pairs and even holiday clubs for school age children.

There are a number of different organisations operating childcare voucher schemes for employers
Childcare voucher schemes are:

Busy Bees - For more information you can call 08000 430 860 or visit website www.busybeesvoucher.com
Accor - For more information you can call 0845 3304406 or visit website www.childcarevouchers.co.uk

If your employer does not offer a childcare voucher scheme, it is advisable to talk to them about the benefits to employees in the savings (tax & National Insurance contributions) they can make. Ask them to investigate running a scheme at your workplace.


What are Healthy Start Vouchers?
Families on certain benefits can get free milk, fruit and vegetables.
With Healthy Start you can get free vouchers every week which you swap for milk, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and infant formula milk. You can also get free vitamins
The value of the weekly vouchers is £3.00. To find out if you qualify or to apply. Please visit website for more information
www.healthystart.nhs.uk


What is Disability Living Allowance (DLA)?
Disability Living Allowance - sometimes referred to as DLA is a tax free benefit for children and adults who need help with personal care or have walking difficulties because they are physically or mentally disabled. For more information call the helpline: Disability Living Allowance/Attendance Allowance Helpline Telephone 08457 123 456 (Lo-call Rate) Textphone: 08457 224 433 (Lo-call Rate) or visit www.direct.gov.uk


Who can get Disability Living Allowance?
You may get Disability Living Allowance if: you have a physical or mental disability or both:
  • you have a physical or mental disability or both
  • your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or you have walking difficulties or both
If you are aged 65 or over, you may be able to get Attendance Allowance.
For more information call the helpline: Telephone 08457 123 456 (Local rate), Textphone: 08457 224 433 (Local)
Visit website www.direct.gov.uk


I am eligible for the Health in Pregnancy grant?
If your expected date of delivery is on or after 6th April 2009, and you are at least 25 weeks pregnant, then YES you can make a claim.

From April 2009, you can claim a one-off, tax-free payment from H M Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if you're a mum-to-be who's at least 25 weeks pregnant. The payment is called 'Health in Pregnancy Grant' and is to help you prepare for the birth of your baby.

Your due date needs to be on or after 6 April 2009 for you to make a claim.

Who can get Health in Pregnancy Grant?

You can get the grant if all of the following apply:

  • you are 25 weeks pregnant or more
  • your expected date of delivery is on or after 6 April 2009
  • you have been given health advice from a midwife or doctor
you may not get the grant if:
  • you are subject to immigration control or
  • you are not present, ordinarily resident or have a right to reside in the UK
How much do you get?

The grant will be a one-off payment of £190 for each pregnancy. It will not affect your tax credits or any other benefits. Everyone will get the same amount you will not be asked about your income.

How do you claim?

Get a claim form from your midwife or doctor any time from 1 January 2009 onwards - as long as you're at least 25 weeks pregnant and your expected delivery date is on or after 6 April 2009. Your midwife or doctor must fill in their part of the form and sign it before giving it to you.

You will need to get your claim form to HMRC within 31 days of your midwife or doctor signing the form - otherwise you may miss out on the grant.

You can get a free text message or email reminder to help you remember to claim if you are not 25 weeks pregnant yet.




Does your home need warming up? Do you suffer from a disability or long term illness made worse by living in a cold house?Do you need help or guidance with your utility bills?
Warm and Well in Redcar and Cleveland could help you by offering the following:

Benefit Check - This can help to maximise your income , and receipt of certain benefits qualifies you for an energy efficiency grant - especially if you are on a low income with dependent children or are elderly, have a disability or long-term illness.

Home Energy Efficiency Assessment - this determines the energy efficiency measures your home requires to make it warmer and healthier to live in. It's a simple survey that does not take too long.

Grant for Energy Efficiency Measures - if you receive benefits, you may be eligible for free insulation and measures under the Government's grant schemes. We will assist in the application process and make sure things run smoothly.

Able to pay Schemes - if you do not qualify for a grant we can help you find an affordable option for you to achieve the energy efficiency measures you need for a warmer, healthier home.

Utility Bill Advice - We can provide bill explanations, give advice on tariffs/payment methods and help you choose the right supplier for your needs.

To apply or for further information please contact Warm and Well in Redcar and Cleveland on 01642 777976.


What is the Disabled facilities Grant?
Disabled Facilities Grants are paid to cover the costs of adapting a property to allow a person with a disability to continue living there. They are paid by your local council, which must approve the work before any grant is awarded. An occupational therapist, Home Improvement Agency (HIA), local Environmental or Housing Departments can also advise on what adaptations may be appropriate. You must find out what work is required and how much it will cost before applying. Some councils keep a list of approved builders and architects.

Disabled Facilities Grant[1].pdf


How can I get a tax credit decision changed?
The revenue can revise a decision if there is a change of circumstances, if they have made a mistake or if they think your award is wrong. If you disagree with their decision you can appeal. The time limit for appealing is 30 days from the date of the decision. An appeal must be in writing and must say why you are appealing. Appeals can be made on form TC623, found at the leaflet ATC/AP available from the Revenue. Unless you are reporting a change of circumstances it is usually better to ask for an appeal rather than a revision. This is because the appeal deadline of 30 days is not extended if you ask for a revision and it is turned down. Late appeals are sometimes possible up to one year and 30 days after a decision. But a late appeal is only granted in 'special circumstances', so you should always try and make sure that you meet the normal appeal deadline.

For more information please telephone 0845 300 3900 (Textphone 0845 300 3909) Lines are open from 8am-8pm seven days a week.


What are direct payments?
If your local authority agrees that your child needs services, you can choose to get money to buy these services yourself. This is called Direct Payments. Direct Payments should give you more control over how your childs needs are met but it also involves more responsibility for you.

Control and flexibility
Parents using Direct Payments often find they have more control over the services they receive, with care being provided in a more convenient and flexible way. Using direct payments means you should be able to:
- decide who is going to provide services
- arrange how and when any service is provided

For more information please telephone Contact a Family on 0808 808 3555 or visit the website at www.cafamily.org.uk




How can I use my direct payments?
You can use direct payments to buy services from an organisation that provides care such as a private agency, a voluntary organisation or a nursery. Alternatively you can employ someone yourself. However, you cant use your direct payments to buy services from a local authority.
Using direct payments can mean extra responsibilities for you, since you will be more involved in arranging services. This is particularly true if you employ a PA to help meet your childs needs. Direct payments are not for everyone and you are under no obligation to use them if you dont want to. However, if you like the idea of having more control over services for your family then direct payments are an option worth exploring.

For more information please visit www.cafamily.org.uk or telephone Contact a Family on 0808 808 3555


How can I get Direct Payments?
If you are already getting help from the local authority you can ask for direct payments instead. If you dont currently get help you will first need to ask the local authority to assess your childs care needs.

If you would like futher information please contact your local authority or telephone Contact a Family on 0808 808 3555 or visit www.cafamily.org.uk


Once we've got a child maintenance arrangement in place, can we change it if it's not working?



What can child maintenance options help me with?



Whats the relationship between child maintenance options and the CSA?



If I am separating, when should I start arranging child maintenance?



If I'm a parent with the main day-to-day care and I'm claiming benefits can I get child maintenance as well?



If the parent without the main day-to-day care is claiming benefits can child maintenance still be arranged?



Can I arrange child maintenance without having contact with the other parent?



What happens if the parent without the main day-to-care of the child refuses to pay child maintenance?



Our children spend time living with each of us. What does this mean for child maintenance?



If I pay child maintenance, will this guarantee me access to my child?