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How to get additional help and financial support as a single working parent

How to get additional help and financial support as a single working parent

Many parents find it difficult to balance their careers, financial obligations, and parenting responsibilities. This article provides information about how you can receive extra assistance.

There are many different types of support available to working parents. Some may  solely be available to single parents, while others include benefits for single working parents. Regardless of where you fit into this, you may be entitled to a number of additional forms of support and financial aid to help you out. 

Tax credits

The amount you are eligible for depends on your income and personal circumstances, such as how many children you have. Currently, tax credits can be paid to single parents who work 16 hours a week or more. You can be paid an extra amount if you work 30 hours a week or more, this is called the 30-hour element. 

Your savings, pensions and any other assets you may have won’t affect how much you’re entitled to, unless you receive a taxable income from them of over £300 a year. Some income is ignored when tax credits are calculated. This includes child maintenance and non-taxable benefits such as child benefit.

Tax credits are calculated for the whole of the tax year (from 6th April to 5th April the following year). The amount you can receive is usually based on your income in the previous tax year.

At the end of the tax year HMRC checks to see what your actual income was, and works out if you have been paid the right amount of tax credits. There are two types of tax credits relevant for single working parents: Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits.

Child tax credits

Any parent can qualify for Child Tax Credits by fitting the means-tested profile, but you can only claim it for a child under 16 that you’re responsible for. You may also qualify for credit once your children are older if they are in full-time training or education. 

If you have a new baby or a disabled childyou may qualify for additional money, and you will get more for each child you have. 

You can only make a claim for Child Tax Credit if you already get Working Tax Credit. If you cannot apply for Child Tax Credit, you can apply for Universal Credit instead.

The amount you can receive depends on how many children you’ve got and whether you’re:

Child Tax Credit won’t affect your Child Benefit.

Working tax credits 

You can only make a claim for Working Tax Credit if you already receive Child Tax Credit.

If you cannot apply for Working Tax Credit, you can apply for Universal Credit instead.

You must work a certain number of hours a week to qualify, for example, if you are aged 25 to 59 you must be working at least 30 hours a week. Or if you are single with 1 or more children you must work at least 16 hours a week. 

Use the tax credits calculator to check if you work the right number of hours. You can still apply for Working Tax Credit if you’re on leave.

If you are self-employed, you may not be eligible for Working Tax Credit. To qualify, your self-employed work must aim to make a profit. It must also be commercial, regular and organised.

Can working tax credits help with childcare costs? 

You can claim towards the cost of registered or approved childcare. The childcare element of working tax credits pay up to 70% of your childcare expenses. The maximum amounts payable are 70% of £175 a week (£122.50) for one child, or 70% of £300 a week (£210) for two or more children.

You can get help with childcare costs up to the September following your child’s 15th birthday, or 16th birthday if your child receives disability living allowance or is registered blind. If the amount you pay for childcare varies, for example because you use more childcare in the school holidays, try to work out your average costs. You can do this by looking at how much you will pay over a year and dividing it by 52 to find an average weekly cost.

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.

If you live in Scotland you won’t be eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant, but you can apply for a Pregnancy and Baby Payment instead.

You usually qualify for the maternity grant if 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 benefit
  • You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or within 6 months after the baby’s birth.
  • You do not have to pay the grant back and it will not affect your other benefits or tax credits.

For more information and support check out the links below: 

Gingerbread - Advice and support for single parents

SPSAS - Single Parents Support and Advice Services