Child benefit is worth £17.45 per week for your first child and £11.70 for each younger child. You will get Child Benefit if you are responsible for a child, and satisfy certain other criteria. Details of these can be found in the Child Benefit claim pack. Fill in a form available from your local social security office or Inland Revenue Enquiry Centre. Complete a claim form online at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/childbenefit
Child tax credits
Child tax credits depend on your annual income and are composed of 2 parts. A family element is paid to any family with at least one child and is worth up to £545 and a child element paid to each child in the family and worth up to £1,765. Find out if you are eligible and get the claim form online at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/taxcredits
. Claim as soon as you are able to because amounts can only be backdated for up to three months. Payments will go into your account.
Working tax credit
Working Tax Credit contains several elements, including help with costs of childcare. The maximum basic element is £1,665 a year. The amount you may get will be based on your circumstances such as your income and how many hours you work. This tax credit is to top up the earnings of workers on a low income. You do not have to have children to claim this credit, it is additional to Child Tax Credit.
Childcare Tax Credits
Childcare Tax Credits are worth up to 80 per cent of your child care costs, up to a maximum of £175 per week for one child and £300 per week for two or more children. The childcare must be registered or approved, and you must be working for at least 16 hours a week. The amount you receive will depend on your income and will be paid directly to you and your partner. You can claim Childcare Tax Credits in the same way as you claim Child Tax Credit.
Nursery education grants
All three year olds have access to a free nursery place. This is five sessions of two and a half hours free nursery education a week. Each local education authority (LEA), in association with their Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership (EYDCP) keeps a list of nursery education providers approved to offer free places.
Child Trust Fund
Child Trust Funds are opened with a £250 voucher provided by the government for all babies born after September 2002 (with an additional £250 contribution to those in low income families). A further contribution of £250 is made by the government into the account when the child reaches the age of 7, again with an additional £250 for those in low-income families. Up to £1,200 can be added to the fund each year by family and friends. The money will be available to your child when he or she reaches the age of 18.
For single parents:
Income support is available to those over the age of 16 who are unable to work full time and as a consequence have insufficient funds to live on. If you are a lone parent, work less than 16 hours a week (an average) and have savings under £16,000 you may be eligible to receive this benefit.
The amount you receive is dependent on your individual circumstances and will be calculated based on factors such as your age, your average earnings and the number of dependent children you have. However, regardless of the amount you are granted, if you are eligible for income support you will also receive free prescriptions and dental care, housing and council tax benefits as well as free school meals for your children.
Under UK law, both parents are equally responsible for providing financial support for their child regardless of whether they actively contribute to the child's upbringing. This means that if you are raising your child alone, you are entitled to claim child maintenance payments from the non-residential parent. The amount that you will receive is means-tested and will be based on a percentage of his or her income.
The child support agency (CSA) can help to calculate and collect child maintenance support from non-residential parents who live in the UK or work abroad for a UK based employer. The CSA will become involved in this process when either parent asks for assistance or when the parent with care claims income support.
There is also help available for lone parents whose ex-partner has moved abroad as Britain has an arrangement with over 100 countries that allows a parent living in one country to claim maintenance from an ex-partner who lives in another
For more information on child maintenance visit www.csa.gov.uk
Child Maintenance Premium
You are likely to be eligible for the child maintenance premium if you have sole care of your child and are in receipt of Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. This benefit allows you to keep up to £10 per week of any maintenance payments you receive for your children.
Lone Parent Benefits Run-on
If the following statements apply to you, you may be eligible for Lone Parents Benefit Run-on.
You have been receiving Income Support, Minimum Income Guarantee or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance continually for at least 26 weeks.
You have you been a lone parent for those 26 weeks.
You have increased your working hours so that you are now working at least 16 hours a week or you are now working full-time in a job that you expect to last for at least 5 weeks.
If you are going back to work, lone parents benefit run-on provides you with financial help to tide you over until you are paid from your new job.
It is important to be aware that if you are going back to work or increasing your hours at an existing job, you must inform the department from which you receive benefits at once.
Visit the official government website ( www.direct.gov.uk
) for further information on the benefits available for lone parents.