Financial Help for Families

Universal Credit 

Universal Credit is a benefit that replaces 6 existing benefits with a simpler, single monthly payment if you’re out of work or on a low income.

Universal Credit will help you to be better off in work, start a new job or work more hours.

Universal Credit replaces:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

To get Universal Credit you must

  • be 18 or over
  • be under State Pension age
  • be on a low income or unemployed
  • not be in full-time education or training

You’ll get less Universal Credit if you have savings over £6,000 or earn enough money to cover your basic living costs.

If you live with your partner you may be able to claim Universal Credit if you or your partner are working.

Your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account, even if they aren’t eligible for Universal Credit.

If you have children

You can make a new Universal Credit claim if any of the following apply:

  • have 2 children or fewer and you live in a ‘full service’ area
  • received Universal Credit in a ‘full service’ area in the previous 6 months and your payments have stopped - it doesn’t matter how many children you have
  • received Universal Credit in a ‘live service’ area in the previous 6 months and your payments ended because of your earnings - it doesn’t matter how many children you have

You can’t claim if you’ve 3 or more children and you’ve not claimed Universal Credit in the last 6 months. You can apply for Child Tax Credit instead.

How can I check if I am eligible?

Child Tax Credits

Child Tax Credit is being replaced by Universal Credit.

Warrington is a ‘full service’ Universal Credit area, you can only claim Child Tax Credit if:

The amount you could get depends on when your children were born.

If all your children were born before 6 April 2017

You could get the ‘child element’ of Child Tax Credit for all of your children.

You’ll also get the basic amount, known as the ‘family element’.

If one or more of your children were born on or after 6 April 2017

You could get the child element of Child Tax Credit for up to 2 children. You might get the child element for more children if exceptions apply.

You’ll only get the family element if at least one of your children was born before 6 April 2017.

Child Tax Credit The basic amount of Child Tax Credit is up to £545 a year. This is known as the ‘family element’

If you work you may qualify for Working Tax Credit. The basic amount of Working Tax Credit is up to £1,960 a year - you could get more (or less) depending on your circumstances and income.

The childcare element of Working Tax Credits can cover up to 70 per cent of eligible childcare costs. Maximum costs are currently set at £122.50 per week for one child and £210 per week for two or more children.

Use the tax credit calculator to work out how much you could get.

How can I check if I am eligible?

  • Contact the Tax Credit telephone helpline on 0345 300 3900
  • Log on to: www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits 
  • Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau on 01925 246994

Benefit Cap 

There’s a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. This is called the benefit cap.

How much you get for certain benefits may go down to make sure the total you get isn’t more than the cap amount.

The cap applies to the total amount people in your household (you, your partner and any children living with you) get from the following benefits:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance (or Widowed Mother’s Allowance or Widow’s Pension if you started getting it before 9 April 2001)
  • Universal Credit

You may not be affected by the benefit cap in certain circumstances, to find out more please visit https://www.gov.uk/benefit-cap/when-youre-not-affected

Use the benefit cap calculator https://www.gov.uk/benefit-cap-calculator  to find out how the benefit cap affects you. Your benefit cap depends on where you live in the UK.

Child Benefit

You get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training).

Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child. You must report any change of circumstances to the Child Benefit Office.

You may have to pay a tax charge if your (or your partner’s) individual income is over £50,000.

It doesn’t matter if the child living with you is not your own child.

You can choose not to get Child Benefit payments, but you should still fill in the claim form because:

To claim, contact the Child Benefit Office on 0300 200 3100 or visit https://www.gov.uk/child-benefit.

2 year old Early Education Funding 

Children may be eligible for 15 hours per week of early years education from the term after their second birthday. Not every child is entitled to receive a funded place. You will need to meet one or more of the following criteria for your child to be eligible for a place.

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner are on a low income from work (this usually means a combined income of less than £15,400 a year after tax)
  • tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

A child can also get free early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

If you’re eligible the early education and childcare:

For further information please contact the Families Information Service on 01925 443131 or your registered childcare provider.

3 & 4 year olds Early Education Funding

Three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of early education over a minimum of 38 weeks to a maximum of 570 hours over a year. This applies until they reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday).

This funding is available to all 3 and 4 year old children regardless of parental income, from the term following the child’s third birthday.

To access this funding your childcare provider must be registered to deliver the early year’s education.

The Early Education funding can be accessed at nursery classes/schools, private nurseries, playgroups, preschools or with an accredited childminder. The level of flexibility that is offered will depend on a provider's individual circumstances.

The following conditions apply:-

  • 15 hour entitlement over a minimum of two days
  • A minimum of 2.5 hours and a maximum of 10 hours can be accessed in any 1 day
  • A maximum of two providers at any one time
  • Cannot be accessed before 7 am or after 7 pm
  • Sessions accessed in no less than half hour blocks

30 Hours extended entitlement for 3 & 4 year olds

Working parents of three and four year olds may be eligible for an additional 15 hours funded childcare per week. You may have seen or heard it referred to as 30 hours free childcare.

In order to take advantage of the extended entitlement, the eligibility criteria is as follows;

  • Parent of a child who is 3 or 4 years old
  • Both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family)

and

  • Each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to
  • 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and less than £100,000 per year.
  • It is a one parent household and the working parent meets the
  • income rules
  • Working will include employed and self-employed persons

Use the Childcare Calculator at www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator to see what offers are available to support you and your family.

To find out more about the new and existing offers, and how they can help you, go to the Childcare Choices website today at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk. Childcare Choices brings together all the government childcare offers in one place for the first time. The new Childcare Choices website makes it easy to find out what’s on offer. 

Employer Supported Childcare/Childcare Vouchers

Your employer may offer you help with your childcare costs. This can be offered through a variety of schemes that help you, as a parent, save money by not paying tax and National Insurance contributions on some or all of your childcare costs.

Not all employers offer this assistance but, if they do, the amount you save with an employer-supported childcare scheme depends on:

  • the type of scheme your employer offers; 
  • whether this is offered instead of your salary (salary sacrifice) or in addition to your salary (salary plus); and 
  • the rate of tax and National Insurance contributions on your salary.

Childcare Vouchers

You can use these to pay your childcare provider, who will claim the value of the voucher from the voucher company or from your employer, usually by direct payment into their bank account. Some employers administer the scheme themselves; others use a voucher company to run the scheme. Many people receive their vouchers as an e-voucher but you can receive it as a paper voucher.

For further information contact your employer, or call the Family & Childcare Trust on 020 7940 7510 or HMRC 0345 300 3900 or visit the following websites www.familyandchildcaretrust.org or www.hmrc.gov.uk/childcare  

The Childcare Voucher scheme is changing - Parents can continue to join the current Childcare Voucher scheme until April 2018. After this time the current Childcare Voucher scheme will be closed to new joiners. It is important to note that as an existing member of the Childcare Voucher scheme you will be able to remain on the scheme as long as your employer continues to offer them, However, parents cannot be in receipt of support through both schemes at the same time.

Tax-Free Childcare Accounts – the new scheme for working parents

If you're a working parent with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare.

The government will top-up the money you pay into the account.

  • For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2.
  • You can receive up to £2,000 per child - that's up to £500 every three months.
  • If you have a disabled child, you can receive up to £4,000 per child - that's up to £1,000 every three months.

You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). 

If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible. 

  • If either you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more, you can’t get Tax-Free Childcare. 

You can’t use Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as childcare vouchers, Universal Credit or tax credits.

You can use it with the 15 hours and 30 hours schemes.

You can use Tax-Free Childcare to help pay:

  • Registered childminders, nurseries and nannies
  • Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
  • Registered schools
  • Home careworkers working for a registered home care agency

Check whether Tax-Free Childcare is the best offer for you using the childcare calculator.

Free School meals

All state funded infant school children (i.e. those in reception, year 1 and year 2) receive a universal free school lunch. 

Other children and young people in full time education who are under the age of 19 are only entitled to free school meals if their parents/carers are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits.

The council is able to check online if you are eligible to receive free school meals.  You may be required to provide paper proof of your entitlement. Foster carers are not entitled to claim free school meals as the fostering allowance includes funds to pay for school meals.

Applications, further details on free school meals and eligibility are available from Warrington Children and Young People’s Services Directorate on 01925 446226 or http://www.warrington.gov.uk/info/200311/school_meals/480/free_school_meals

Help for Students with children

Care to Learn is a childcare funding scheme for young parents under the age of 20 who wish to start or continue studying.  It

provides help with paying for registered childcare and travel costs and can also give you access to advice and support.   

For further information call the Care to Learn helpline on 0800 121 8989 or log onto www.gov.uk/care-to-learn/how-to-claim.

There are a range of funding schemes available to students to assist them with childcare/family costs and other course related costs, depending upon the type of course they are studying and individual circumstances.  For further information about what’s available and also eligibility criteria please check with your local college/university, or visit www.gov.uk.

Widowed Parent's/Guardians Allowance 

You might be able to claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance if you’re widowed under State Pension age and have at least one dependent child. You may also be able to claim if you’re pregnant and your husband has died, or you’re pregnant after fertility treatment and your civil partner has died.

You can get Widowed Parent’s Allowance until you stop being entitled to Child Benefit.

You could get Guardian’s Allowance if you’re bringing up a child whose parents have died. You may also be eligible if there’s one surviving parent. The Guardian’s Allowance rate is £16.70 a week. You get it on top of Child Benefit and it’s tax-free. You must tell the Guardian’s Allowance Unit about certain changes to your circumstances.

You can order a Bereavement Benefits claim pack (form BB1) over the telephone from your local Job Centre plus office. You can also download it from https://www.gov.uk/widowed-parents-allowance/how-to-claim

Fill in the form and send to your local Job Centre Plus office as soon as possible, or you can make a claim over the telephone by contacting the Bereavement Service on 0345 606 0265.

Expecting a baby, you could qualify for maternity allowance and/or a maternity grant

Sure Start Maternity Grant

You could get a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. This is known as a Sure Start Maternity Grant.

You usually qualify for the grant if both of the following apply:

  • you’re expecting your first child, or you’re expecting a multiple birth (such as twins) and have children already
  • you or your partner already get certain benefits

You can claim from 11 weeks before the week your baby is due. The latest you can claim is 3 months after your baby is born.

If you’re becoming responsible for a child, you must claim within 3 months of this happening.

You don’t have to pay the grant back and it won’t affect your other benefits or tax credits

You may also be able to get a grant if you’re adopting or becoming a surrogate parent.

The baby must be less than 1 year old on the date you claim. You must be receiving one of the benefits above and one of the following must also apply:

  • you’ve become responsible for the baby and you’re not the mother
  • the baby has been placed with you for adoption
  • you’ve got permission to adopt a baby from abroad
  • you’ve got a parental order for a surrogate birth
  • you’ve been appointed as guardian
  • you’ve an adoption or a residence order 

To claim, contact Sure Start Maternity Grant on 0800 169 0140 or log onto www.gov.uk/sure-start-maternity-grant

Maternity Allowance- If you're pregnant or have a new baby but don't qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from any employer, you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA) through Jobcentre Plus. To claim contact the Jobcentre Plus office on 0800 055 6688.

Healthy Start Vouchers

If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, the Healthy Start scheme can help you buy basic foods like milk or fruit. If you qualify for the scheme you’ll be sent vouchers you can use in over 30,000 shops in the UK.

You can also get coupons to swap for free vitamins suitable for:

  • pregnant women
  • breastfeeding women
  • children aged 6 months to 5 years old

If you qualify, you’ll get vouchers worth £3.10 each to spend on:

  • milk
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • plain frozen fruit and vegetables
  • infant formula

You will qualify for the Healthy Start scheme if either:

  • you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant
  • you have at least 1 child under 4 years old

In addition, you must be receiving any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (but only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit (but only if your family’s net earnings are £408 or less per month)

You’ll also be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme if you’re pregnant and under 18, even if you don’t receive any benefits.

For further information please contact the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823

Warm Home Discount Scheme

You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2017 to 2018 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The money isn’t paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between September and March.

You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out.

The discount won’t affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

Pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meters

You can still qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.

Your electricity supplier can tell you how you’ll get the discount if you’re eligible, for example a voucher you can use to top up your meter.

The following suppliers are part of the scheme:

Atlantic - see SSE, Bristol Energy - only if you’re eligible for the ‘core group’, British Gas, Co-operative energy, Economy Energy, EDF Energy, E.ON, Extra Energy, First Utility, Fischer Energy - only if you’re eligible for the winter 2017 to 2018 ‘core group’, Flow Energy, GB Energy - see Co-operative energy, Manweb - see ScottishPower, M&S Energy - see SSE, npower, Our Power - only if you’re eligible for the ‘core group’, OVO, Sainsbury’s Energy - see British Gas, Scottish Gas - see British Gas, Scottish Hydro - see SSE, ScottishPower, Southern Electric - see SSE, Spark Energy, SSE, SWALEC - see SSE, Utilita, Utility Warehouse.

Budget Boosting Clubs

The council offers Budget Boosting Clubs in central Warrington for people who may be struggling to get a job or finding it difficult to make ends meet

Come along to your local budget boosting club….

Get free advice and support to help you find employment and boost your income in a friendly, welcoming environment.

We can help you to:

  • Search for jobs online
  • Apply for jobs and complete application forms
  • Write your CV & cover letter
  • Improve your skills at interview
  • Check benefit entitlement
  • Find free on-line training courses

We can also:

  • Sign post you to all kinds of services that can help you to boost your income
  • Provide tips on how to save money
  • Help you get a better deal on your services/suppliers and reduce your bills
  • Help you to get signed up to a credit union
  • Help you to shop online within your budget – find out how online shopping can save you money

Clubs are available as follows:

  • Mondays - 10am-12pm: Oakwood Hub, 2 Whitethroat Walk, Oakwood, WA3 6PG
  • Mondays - 1.30pm-3.00pm Radley Common Community Centre, Grasmere Avenue, WA2 0LR
  • Tuesdays - 10am-12pm: Orford Community Hub, Festival Avenue, Orford, WA2 9EP
  • Wednesdays - 10am-12pm: Fearnhead Community Centre, Insall Road, WA2 0HD
  • Wednesdays - 1pm-3.30pm: Westy Community Centre, Bridgewater Avenue, WA4 1TA
  • Thursdays - 10am-12pm: Whitecross Community Centre, Lexden Street, WA6 1PT 

For further information on the council’s budget boosting clubs, call Tracy Williams on 01925 231470 or contact tracy.williams@warrington.gov.uk.

The information contained within this page has been extracted from various reliable sources, and whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of printing, it is only intended as a guide. Please contact the relevant organisation for the latest information.