Written by: Fiona Denton
As a busy lone working parent doing it all on your own, you may not realise just how much financial assistance the Government actually provides. Working lone parents are entitled to a variety of benefits, many of which are easy to apply for. Our handy guide has been designed to help you discover what financial help is out there and how you can get it. Don’t lose out – read on!
Sure Start Maternity Grant
Even before your little bundle of joy enters the world you can prepare for its arrival with a £500 grant. Both a lone parent and couples can apply for this grant for their first child only (or children in the case of multiple births). An application must be made within 11 weeks of the due date or during the first three months after the child is born.
Yes, even if you work, you could still be entitled to receive income support. If you work less than 16 hours per week and you are a lone parent, you could be entitled to top-ups in your income in the form of income support. In conjunction with income support, you could be entitled to other benefits including, free school meals, free NHS dental care and prescriptions. To be eligible for income support you must not have savings in excess of £16,000.
The majority of families and lone parents will be entitled to receive child benefit. Currently the child benefit rates stand at £20.30 for the first child and £13.40 per additional child.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction
Just as income support tops up shortfalls in income, housing benefit and council tax reduction bridge the gap caused by low earnings from part-time working or unemployment. Factors taken into account when being assessed for eligibility include income, savings, and the rate of your local housing allowance. Application for housing benefit and council tax benefit is usually calculated at the same time and you can even apply online. You do not have to be a lone parent to claim housing benefit and it is advisable to apply as soon as you believe yourself to be eligible as backdated payments are only given in extreme circumstances.
Child Tax Credits
If your child is under 16, or under 20 and in accredited education or training then you will be entitled to receive child tax credit for each child in this position. Again, the amount you receive is determined by your income and child tax credits are paid to you regardless of whether you are working or not. Households with disabled children will receive a higher amount of tax credit
Working Tax Credit
If you work for 16 hours or more per week in the UK you may be able to claim working tax credit. If you work at least 30 hours per week you will receive an additional amount of working tax credits. Another attractive element of this particular financial top-up is that parents can receive up to 70% towards childcare costs as well as any working tax credit they receive. If you are in receipt of child care vouchers from your employer, this can affect the amount of tax credits you receive.
Financial Support from the Non-Resident Parent
Any lone parent knows it can be a struggle to make ends meet and if your child’s father or mother is unwilling to contribute, you can approach the Child Support Agency (CSA) to calculate and retrieve money from the other parent for your child. Previously, any child support had to be declared and would diminish the amount of income support a parent would receive, but this is no longer the case.
It is not difficult to find out what you are entitled to claim as a lone working parent
It need not be a complicated task to discover what financial support you are entitled to and there are several agencies that provide free advice on these matters. You can apply for many of the above benefits online and further detailed information can be found on the HMRC website.