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5 benefits that could help your family financially

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

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A couple looking at their finances

When it comes to saving money for your family, especially with the rising cost of raising children, it isn't just the daily cost-cutting exercises you should look to.

While you can reduce expenditures through taking care with purchases and working to reduce bills, you may actually be entitled to other benefits because you have children. This could mean that you receive money through family benefits that help provide for you and your children.

Here are five family benefits you could be entitled to without even realising.

Child Tax Credits

One thing you may find you're entitled to is tax credits. It is worth checking to see if you can claim any form of tax credit as these can add up to thousands of pounds each year. These are payouts from the government, which are regularly paid directly into your bank to help you support your children.

Tax credits called Child Tax Credit can be claimed if you have children, with money being paid for each child you have, so you will get more money the larger your family is. These are payable from birth up until August 31st after your child turns 16.

However, you can continue to receive Child Tax Credits until your children turn 20 if they are in approved education, training or are registered with the careers service. The amount you receive will depend on your circumstances so it is important that you provide full and correct information to ensure you get the right amount of money.

It is important to renew your Child Tax Credits every year, otherwise payments will stop completely. You should also contact the tax office if you think you are being under or overpaid to ensure you are getting exactly what you are due. Not doing this could see you losing out or getting stuck with a bill for the money you shouldn't have received.

Working Tax Credits

Another form of tax credits you may be entitled to is Working Tax Credits. You don't need to have children to be eligible for these and can receive them as well as Child Tax Credits, dependent upon your situation.

This type of tax credit takes into account your income and the overall amount of money your household earns. For single people, this means you only have to claim for yourself, but if you are married, in a civil partnership or living with your partner, you need to make a joint claim and your overall income will be used to assess your eligibility.

Your eligibility can be affected by the number of hours you work as well as how much money you earn, so, as with Child Tax Credits, you will need to ensure you provide full and correct information in order to receive the right amount of money.

Even if you are receiving Child Tax Credits, it's worth seeing if you can also claim Working Tax Credits as you could end up being thousands of pounds better off each year. You can find more information on both types of tax credit here.

Childcare Vouchers

Childcare can be incredibly pricey, especially if you and your partner are both working full-time, or if you have more than one child. However, you may be entitled to childcare vouchers from your employer, which can help with the costs.

Those who are working and paying for registered or approved childcare may be able to make the most of childcare vouchers, which means it is definitely worth looking into. However, it is important to note that childcare vouchers could affect your tax credits.

You can only receive childcare vouchers from your employer, so if they don't offer them you can't receive them. If your employer does offer them, they may be in return for a reduction in your pay - known as a 'salary sacrifice'. If this is the case, it is worth checking whether the vouchers will benefit you enough to warrant the loss in salary.

For full information on what childcare vouchers are available to you, talk to your employer to see what scheme they have in place.

Child Benefit

Anyone who is responsible for a child under the age of 16 is entitled to child benefit. This entitlement goes up to children under the age of 20 if they are in approved training or education, meaning it is worth filling in the claim form.

Child benefits can only be paid to one person for a child, meaning either yourself or your partner needs to claim individually; although overall household income will still be taken into account.

Just as with tax credits, Child Benefit is paid directly into your bank account. This is usually done monthly but you can arrange for weekly payments is you're receiving other benefits like Income Support or if you're a single parent.

You can also opt not to receive Child Benefits, but it is still a good idea to submit the claim form because it can help you get National Insurance Credits, which go toward your state pension.

You can find out more about what you may be entitled to here.

Childcare Grants

If you're in full-time higher education and have children, you can benefit from childcare grants. These help toward the cost of childcare while you're attending lessons, helping with the financial strain.

You can receive grants for children under the age of 15 or under 17 if they have special educational needs. The grants entitle you to up to £150.23 a week if you have one child or up to £257.55 a week for two or more children.

Any money you receive from the grants is paid on top of student finance and won't affect it. Unlike student loans, you don't have to pay Childcare Grants back.

You can find out if you're eligible and how to apply here.

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