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First Steps Project Glasgow

First Steps Project Glasgow

New First Steps Project

Are you a young parent aged between 16 – 24, and live in Maryhill or Canal area of Glasgow? Contact Marissa and Marie by email or telephone 0141 847 0444 if you would like further information.

Download First Steps Leaflet

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2017/18 Training Programme for Professionals

2017/18 Training Programme for Professionals

We’ve just announced more dates for our 2017/18 training programme for professionals working with single parents. Courses are booking now at a cost of £25 per session.  All courses will be held at our office at 100 Wellington Street, Glasgow.

There are three half-day courses available:

  • Universal Credit
  • Child Maintenance Service
  • Conditionality and Sanctions

Universal Credit

Updated for 2017/18, this course is aimed at professionals who want to understand how Universal Credit will affect the single parent families they work with.

This course covers:

  • Timetable for continuing rollout
  • The application process
  • The individual elements that make up Universal Credit
  • How the calculation works
  • Sanctions and Hardship payments

Basic benefit knowledge is necessary to get the most out of the session.

Glasgow dates:

Child Maintenance Service

With Child Support Agency cases being closed, parents will have to make a decision whether to opt for a family-based arrangement or use the statutory Child Maintenance Service for which there is a charge. This course will help professionals understand how the system works and prepare parents for the choices they will have to make.

This half day course covers:

  • The mandatory gateway
  • Charging for parents with care and non-resident parents
  • How child maintenance is calculated
  • Updating of maintenance assessments
  • Shared care arrangements

Glasgow dates:

Conditionality and Sanctions

Single parents are subject to conditionality once their youngest child is one year old.  This means they have tasks to perform in order to claim and remain entitled to benefits.

This course explains the pitfalls and how to avoid them by looking at:

  • The benefit claiming process
  • The Claimant commitment
  • Sanctions and Hardship payments

Basic benefit knowledge is necessary to get the most out of the session.

Glasgow dates:

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Benefits when your children get older

Benefits when your children get older

Are your children getting older?

Your benefits, tax credits and child maintenance could change. Child Tax Credit usually stops on 31 August after your child turns 16, but can continue for children under 20 in approved education, training or registered with a careers service.

See our What happens when my child gets older factsheet, or call the Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323 If you need to speak to an adviser.

Is your child leaving education?

If your child is leaving education altogether, how it will affect your finances will depend on what they’re planning to do after they leave. If your child is 16, or will be 16 by the end of the summer holidays after leaving school, your benefits will continue at least until the end of the summer after they have left school. How your benefits are affected after that will depend on what your child is going to do afterwards.

Is your child going into further education?

If your child is staying in non-advanced education or training, is under 20 years old and enrolled on their course before their 19th birthday they are still classed as your dependent child. Your benefits shouldn’t be affected but tell the Tax Credit Office as soon as possible to make sure you get paid the right amount of tax credit.

Is your child going to university?

When your child is studying in higher education they are no longer classed as your dependant, so you won’t be entitled to get child benefit, or tax credits for them. Usually child benefit and child tax credit continue until the end of August if your child is starting a higher education course in the September term. We often have parents call the helpline who didn’t know studying at HNC level would affect their benefits.

 What happens when my child gets older?

 

 

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Tax Credit Renewal Deadline Monday 31 July

Tax Credit Renewal Deadline Monday 31 July

Your tax credit claim needs to be renewed each year. If you already receive tax credits HMRC will have contacted you asking if the details they have are still correct. You need to report any changes to your circumstances such as childcare costs, decrease or increase in the hours you work or the amount you expect to earn in the coming year.

The deadline for renewing your claim is Monday 31 July. To ensure you continue to get the correct amount of tax credits, avoid overpayments and underpayments you need to renew your claim before this date.

Contact HMRC on the Tax Credit Helpline 0345 300 3900, renew online or call the Lone Parent Helpline 0808 801 0323 for more details.

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Dundee visit by Keith Brown MSP

Dundee visit by Keith Brown MSP

Workers and parents from One Parent Families Scotland Dundee Family Support Services participated in an event on Wednesday 12th July with Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work was visiting Dundee to celebrate the Wise Group becoming the 845th accredited Living Wage employer in Scotland and to highlight the importance of the Living Wage in the Scottish and local economies. One Parent Families Scotland, already an accredited Living Wage employer,  in Dundee work in partnership with the WISE group to deliver support to single parents as part of a new Employability Pipeline Project in the city.

During a discussion session, parents seeking employment were able to put forward their views about the importance of receiving a decent wage to enable them and their families to have a good enough standard of living.

Kim McRae, OPFS Services Manager in Dundee raised the point with Mr Brown that whilst the provision of decent salaries, such as the living wage was highly beneficial to many families, what remained as a barrier to successful employment, as routes out of poverty for numerous families, was the lack of affordable, flexible childcare. Mr Brown agreed that whilst there have been some improvements in the provision of childcare; there was still some way to go.

One single parent, who has received support from OPFS, spoke of her gratitude to all of the agencies she received support from which has resulted in her securing employment. Without this support, this would not have been possible.

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Help to Pay for a Short Period of Childcare

Help to Pay for a Short Period of Childcare

Single parents working 16 hours, or more, per week can claim help with registered childcare costs from HMRC. This help is paid as part of working tax credit. The amount you get depends on your circumstances.

If you are using childcare regularly and often the costs will be averaged out over 52 weeks but you can also get help if you only need the childcare for a ‘one off limited period’.

You can ask HMRC for help with childcare costs for a specific period, such as school summer holidays or in an emergency, once or twice per year as long as you have a definite start and end date. This help can only be back-dated one month so you should claim it as soon as you start using childcare to avoid losing out.

Examples:

Jessica works 18 hours per week and has 3 children. She needs childcare every Easter, summer, October and Christmas to fit with the school holidays. Her childcare costs will be averaged out over 52 weeks as she uses childcare regularly.

Karl has 2 sons and does not usually need to use registered childcare as his father looks after the children while he works full time. Karl’s father is going on a 3 day trip, so Karl has found a childminder for that period. Karl can ask for help from HMRC to help pay for this as he knows the start and end dates and it is unlikely that he will need to use registered childcare again this year.

If you need more details you can call the Lone Parent Helpline 0808 801 0323, the Tax Credit Helpline (HMRC) 0345 300 3900 or see Gov.uk/ChildcareCosts

See Our Going Back to Work factsheet

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Two Child Limit – frequently asked questions

Two Child Limit – frequently asked questions

Since 6 April 2017 some benefits are now only being paid for up to two children per family. You may be concerned about what this means for you but not every family will be affected.

Here are examples of some of the questions we’ve been asked on the Lone Parent Helpline.

1. I already have 2 children and am expecting a baby boy in August. Will I get any benefits for my new baby?

As you already have 2 children and your new baby will be born after 6 April 2017 you will get some benefits for him but not the same as for your other children. The new rule means child tax credit, and housing benefit to help with rent, will now usually be paid for only 2 children so you will not get them for the baby. Child benefit and council tax reduction are not affected so will be paid for all your children.

2. I have 3 children and am getting child benefit, child tax credit, housing benefit and council tax reduction. Will these be reduced because I get them for 3 children?

You don’t have to worry about your benefits being reduced as the new rule only applies where the third child is born after 6 April 2017. Families getting benefits before this date will not be affected unless they already have 2 children and then have more after 6 April 2017.

3. My twins are due in June and I already have a son aged 3 and daughter of 7 years old. I get child benefit and child tax credit for them. What benefits will I get for my new babies?

One of the exceptions to the 2 child limit on tax credits is for multiple births. Parents who have no children, or one child, then have a multiple birth will have benefits paid for all of their children. Parents who already have 2 or more children then have a multiple birth will receive benefits for all but one of their children. As you already have 2 children you will receive child tax credit and help with rent for only one of your twins. In other words you will get child tax credit and help with rent for 3 children and child benefit and help with council tax for all

4. How will my universal credit be affected by the new ‘2 child limit’? I already have 3 children.

The new two child limit rule affects universal credit differently than it does child tax credit. There is a limit on how long you can receive universal credit for more than 2 children. As your children were born before 6 April 2017 it will continue to be paid for them all but only up to 31 October 2018. After this date your universal credit will be reduced so you will get it for only 2 children. If you have another child you will not get universal credit for that baby.

5. What is the ‘rape clause’ I’ve heard people talk about, and how does it affect benefits?

The rape clause describes one of the exceptions to the 2 child limit. It says that a mother will get child tax credits for the new baby if she can show that the baby was conceived as a result of abusive or controlling behaviour. She may need to provide evidence from a professional such as a doctor, police officer or a worker from a service such as Women’s Aid and must not be staying in the same house as the father when the baby is born.

A form, available from the GOV.UK website or from a work coach at the local jobcentre, called ‘Support for a child conceived without your consent’ (NCC1 4/17 pdf) needs to be filled out.

6. Are there exceptions to the 2 child limit other than for a multiple birth or a child conceived by force?

Exceptions also apply where a child has been adopted or there is a kinship care arrangement.

For more details on the information given here see www.gov.uk

If you need advice on your situation call us on freephone 0808 801 0323

 

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New Gingerbread report: ‘Children deserve more’

New Gingerbread report: ‘Children deserve more’

Gingerbread’s new report, ‘Children deserve more: challenging child maintenance avoidance’ has just been published.

The report shows how the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is unable and unwilling to ensure proper support for children. It highlights shows how current rules, and their implementation, mean many parents pay a fraction of what they can afford to support their children.

Headlines include:

  • The new CMS calculation falls short in assessing a paying parent’s income
  • Recent reforms have made it harder to get a fairer payment
  • The CMS leaves parents in the dark on their options – many give up.

Find out more and share the findings under #ChildrenDeserveMore.

 

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New Baby Box Registration

New Baby Box Registration

All new-born babies in Scotland will be offered a Baby Box.

The baby box scheme will be rolled out across Scotland in August, the Scottish Government has confirmed. All babies born on 15 August or after will receive a box with the essentials to help them get the best start in life. Pregnant mothers can register to receive the box at their midwife appointment after 15 June.

Inspired by Finnish baby boxes, the Scottish version includes around 40 items and the box doubles as a cot.

The boxes contain about 40 different items including a play mat, a changing mat, a digital thermometer, a fleece jacket, several baby grows, a hooded bath towel, a reusable nappy and liners, a baby book and an organic sponge.

The roll-out follows pilot projects in Orkney and Clackmannanshire which started on 1 January.  See full article at BBC.

 

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Scottish School Clothing Grant Campaign

Scottish School Clothing Grant Campaign

The 1980 Education Act specifies that local authorities must make provision for the clothing of pupils who would otherwise be unable to afford school wear. At present local authorities are responsible for deciding the eligibility criteria, the grant amount and application process. CPAG, Poverty Truth Commission and OPFS believe the amounts set are not enough to adequately clothe children for school, leaving families on low income struggling to get by. We believe that there should be a statutory duty on local authorities and a minimum amount of school clothing grant established in statute to make progress towards a more realistic contribution towards the cost of school clothing.

The school clothing grant is a lifeline for many low income parents in Scotland. While parents on the lowest income can receive some help by way of a school clothing grant from their local authority, in many areas the grant available is nowhere near enough to cover even the most basic items. The grant offered by local authorities can vary widely from £20 to £110 (Appendix 1 of the briefing). Through our consultations with parents we know that thousands of families across Scotland are struggling to afford the clothes, shoes, bags and kit their children need to go to school.

Please fill in the survey here.

Read the full briefing.

 

 

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