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9/2/2014 11:08:59 AM

Biggest change in Royal British Legion's history brings help to the high street

Information about the British Legion's new developments (link opens in a new window)

 

The Royal British Legion has undergone the biggest transformation in its 93-year history resulting in a complete change of how the charity delivers its frontline support services.

The charity provides practical, emotional and financial support to all members of the British Armed Forces - past and present - and their families. Anyone who has served for at least seven days as a Regular or Reservist in the UK Armed Forces, their families and carers, is eligible for help.

Development and structure

After three years of development and restructure the Legion is opening 16 Pop In advice and information centres on high streets in major towns and cities across the UK, which will be supported by a network of hundreds of community outreach hubs. Five of the Pop In centres - London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Southampton - are being launched today, Tuesday 2 September.

The Royal British Legion says that no other charity has a presence of this nature on the UK's high street, where members of the Armed Forces and the general public can 'pop in', as easily as going to the shops - for advice and information on the charity's support and community services.

Research into the demographic and long-term needs of the Armed Forces community

The driver behind this change came from research conducted in 2005 and 2010 into the demographic (population data) and long-term needs of the Armed Forces community. Respondents said it was difficult to find the help they needed, either because of not knowing who to go to and what services were on offer, or because this information was hard to access.

Three easy-to-use contact points

The Legion's research, which is supported by the evidence presented in Lord Ashcroft's Veterans' Transition Review, February 2014, has led the Legion to create three easy to use contact points.

These three points are: a comprehensive website, with live web chat, offering information on Legion services and where to go for further support, a Freephone central contact centre open seven days a week from 8am-8pm, and our network of 16 advice and information centres, supported by outreach bases from where we run regular drop in sessions - all in easily accessible locations for face-to-face contact.

Comment from the Royal British Legion

The Legion's Director General, Chris Simpkins, said:

"Our beneficiaries sit at the heart of everything we do as a charity, and when they speak we listen. We are proud to announce this huge change which will ensure the Legion is fit for purpose and members of the Armed Forces community can reach help how and when they need it.

"We know the total number of the Armed Forces community is set to decline, yet the demand for Legion support is predicted to increase, as the population ages and our beneficiaries' needs become more complex, especially amongst those leaving the Forces and those who are wounded, injured or sick.

"We used our research to set a course to modernise the Legion, to meet changing needs and become easier to find – both online and in person – positioning our services closer to where our beneficiaries live. We will be more accessible, quicker to respond and extend our reach in the communities who need us most.

"The Legion should be the first port of call in any circumstances throughout life for Service personnel, veterans and their families."

Find out more about the British Legion's new developments

Find the British Legion on the Turn2us Grants Search

Date of publication: 2 September 2014 

9/2/2014 9:31:18 AM

Free school meals scheme for state infant school pupils starts in England this week

Turn2us Education Costs information

 

State school pupils up to the age of seven in England will be entitled to a free hot school lunch from this week, when most schools start the new term.

Education Minister David Laws expects some 15,200 primary schools - or 98% of the total - to be ready to provide the meals. A small minority of schools will have to provide cold meals as their kitchens are not ready.

Government funding

The government has provided £1 billion to meet the costs of the meals, which are available to all infant school pupils (every child in reception, year 1 and year 2) in state funded schools from September 2014.

Read the Turn2us free school meals information

Source: BBC News article: Free meals ready to be served in infant schools (link opens in a new window)

Help with back to school costs 

We know that this time of year is a worrying time for many parents with back-to-school costs placing great strain on a family's income. The following resources may be able to help you.

School costs: help from the local council

Parents or guardians who are on a low income and responsible for school age children may be able to get help with education costs, such as:

  • Free school meals
  • Travel to school
  • School clothing.

What is available depends on the country of the UK and the local council area that the family lives in.

The Turn2us Education Costs section explains what may be available and how to apply.

Turn2us Grants Search

Many of the charitable funds on the Turn2us Grants Search help with educational costs for school age children.

The help provided is usually in the form of small grants to help with indirect costs, such as equipment; books; sporting equipment; musical instruments, items for students with disabilities or who are disadvantaged; and extracurricular travel.

Some do help with direct costs such as fees and maintenance. However, a student is unlikely to get a grant to cover all of their educational costs.

Most will not be able to help with items such as school uniform costs because they will see this as a statutory service that the local council should provide.

It is also important to apply as early as possible as the application process for many charitable funds can take several weeks.

Money Advice Service Back-to-school planner

Just working out what to buy and manage the costs can be a challenge. Money Advice Service has a Back-to-school planner (link opens in a new window) to help parents and guardians set a budget for school essentials, from uniforms and school meals to books and stationery.

Also in the news

Financial protection

Payday loans

School costs

Date of publication: 2 September 2014

9/1/2014 10:16:19 AM

Government-funded early learning eligibility criteria extended to make more two-year olds entitled

Turn2us Childcare Costs information


 

All three- and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours per week of Government-funded early education because it is proven to help their development.

Some disadvantaged two-year olds were also eligible, and, from 1 September 2014, the eligibility criteria has been extended to make more two-year olds entitled to an early learning place, to improve the life chances of more children.

Funded places can be offered by:

  • Nursery classes in schools and academies
  • Nurseries on school sites
  • Children’s centres
  • Day nurseries
  • Some playgroups and pre-schools
  • Childminders.

Once their child is two, eligible families can claim a place from 1 September, 1 January or 1 April. For example: if an eligible child was born in February, they can claim their funded place from the 1 April after they turn two.

2 year olds: Who is eligible?

From 1 September 2014, a two-year-old will be eligible for a funded place if their parent(s) claims any one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credits or Working Tax Credits and have an annual gross household  income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax credit Run-on – paid for four weeks after the claimant stops qualifying for Working Tax Credit.

A child is also eligible if he or she:

  • is looked after by the local authority
  • has a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan (EHCP)
  • receives a Disability Living Allowance
  • has left care through special guardianship or an adoption or child arrangements order (formerly residence and contact orders).

Universal Credit criteria

The Department for Education will confirm the criteria for Universal Credit at a later date. Families currently receiving Universal Credit should contact their local authority for more information.

Parents can purchase extra hours

Parents can if they choose, purchase extra hours in addition to the 570 hours per year (subject to availability at the setting where their child takes up their early learning place).

Parents should not be asked to pay additional fees, for example for services such as activities or lunchtime meals as a condition of taking up their early learning place.

Parents already receiving tax credits

Parents already receiving tax credits should  inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if taking up a funded early education place. This could change the amount they pay for childcare and therefore the amount of help they can receive with this through tax credits

More information

Read the Turn2us Childcare Costs information

Read the Gov.UK website information on how to access a  funded early learning place in their local authority (link opens in a new window) You can also ask your local nursery, playgroup, childminder, children’s centre or primary school whether they offer funded places for two-year-olds.

Find out more about the early learning programme (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Access to work

Care and support

Carers

Child poverty

Children with Special Education Needs and disabilities

School uniforms

Social housing

Date of publication: 1 September 2014

8/29/2014 9:29:40 AM

Is your child turning 16? Do you claim Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit?

Turn2us Expecting or Bringing up a Child information section

 

If your child is turning 16 and you are claiming Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit, you have until 30 August to let HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) know if they are staying on in approved education or training. If you don't, your payments will stop.

Claiming Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for children aged 16+

These benefits usually stop on 31 August after a child turns 16, but you can continue to claim until they are 19, or in some cases 20, if they are in approved education or training.

What is approved education or training?

Non-advanced courses include:

  • GCSE
  • A Level
  • AS Level
  • NVQ up to Level 3
  • GNVQ up to Intermediate Level
  • Any course that is not 'advanced education'.

Young people must be accepted onto an approved course or training before they turn 19 to be eligible.

How to notify HM Revenue and Customs if your child is staying on in approved education or training

Please note: You will need to notify each office separately if you are claiming both benefits.

Child Benefit

Phone: 0300 200 3100 Text phone: 0300 200 3103

Post: Child Benefit Office, PO Box 1, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE88 1AA

Online: Gov.uk website: Child Benefit 16-19 years (link opens in a new window)

More information on Child Benefit 16-19 year olds (link opens in a new window)

Child Tax Credit

Phone: 0345 300 3900 Text phone: 0345 300 3909

Post: Tax Credits Office, Preston, PR1 4AT

More information on Child Tax Credits when your child reaches 16 (link opens in a new window)

Please note: Child Tax Credit claimants now have to confirm their eligibility annually for 18 and 19 year olds. Previously payments continued until HM Revenue and Customs were told otherwise.

If your child 16-19 leaves approved education or training

It's equally important to let HMRC know if a young person leaves approved education or training, for instance to start work or because their course has ended. If you don't, you could build up an overpayment, which you will have to pay back, or be given a penalty for failing to report a change.  

Source: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Benefits and Credits Consultation Group circular published 20 August 2014 (not available online)

Also in the news

Citizens and consumers

Education and poverty

Managing money

Mental health

School costs

 

Date of publication: 29 August 2014

8/28/2014 9:26:18 AM

Working parents skipping meals to pay housing costs

Turn2us Benefits Calculator

An estimated 880,000 working parents in England have skipped meals in the past year to cover their mortgage or rent, according to Shelter research involving more than 10,000 people.

Working parents with children aged under 18 were asked about steps they took over the past year in order to meet their housing costs. 10.5% of working adults with children said they or their partner had missed meals in the past 12 months to help pay for their home. This would add up to 880,000 parents if the figures were projected across the country.

Meeting housing costs by cutting back

The charity also found that 37% (3 million parents across England) of working parents were cutting back on buying food in an effort to help pay their rent or mortgage.

Some 13% of working parents surveyed said they had put off buying their children new shoes, while 10% delayed buying their children a new school uniform in the past year so they could pay their rent or mortgage.

Comment from Shelter

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "No parent should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying for the roof over their children's heads. These shocking figures show that millions of us are having to make these kind of agonising choices every day. We desperately need the government to make sure that there is a safety net that's strong enough to catch families who fall on hard times and stop them from going through the tragedy of losing their home."

Citizens Advice warning

Citizens Advice is also warning that competing bills mean that half of households will have to cut spending this year.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

“Housing costs have left some families standing on a financial cliff edge. Working households that have already cut back on spending to get by could find themselves in the red if interest rates go up. Citizens Advice research shows 3 in 5 households are worried about the impact of rising bills this year, with over half forced to cut spending to balance the books. The competing pressures of sky-high childcare bills, rising energy costs and wages which are consistently below inflation, mean many people are struggling to pay for the roof over their head. Citizens Advice dealt with nearly 87,000 social housing rent arrears problems last year, up 10 per cent from 2012. 

“It is welcome news that more people are in work, putting more households in a position to get on top of their bills. However, with record numbers of people becoming self-employed and increased numbers of jobs with uncertain hours, families face increasing instability in their income. An interest rate rise would put some in a more precarious position, so any rise needs to be slow and steady in order for families to manage the extra cost.” 

Sources: The Guardian news article: 10.5% of working parents in England skip meals to pay rent, research shows (link opens in a new window) and Citizens Advice press release (28 August 2014): Housing cost “cliff edge” with 3 in 5 worried about household bills (link opens in a new window)

Can Turn2us resources help you?

If you have a child and are struggling to make ends meet, use our Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Turn2us Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.

This includes a Turn2us Childcare Costs information section

The Turn2us Educational Costs information section has information about the financial help that is available for those in education, who is eligible, how much you can get and how to apply.

If you have dependent children 16 or under, see also the Turn2us Expecting or Bringing up a Child information section. If your children are 16-25, see also the Turn2us Young People information section.

See the Turn2us Housing Costs information section for more details of help that may be available to help with housing and energy/water bills. 

Also in the news

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Date of publication: 28 August 2014

8/27/2014 9:59:58 AM

Looking for help with education costs?

Mother and son

With the new school year about to start, many parents will be worrying about the effect of the new school term on family finances. From stocking up on stationery to forking out for new school uniforms, back-to-school costs can often be expensive.

The same is true for young people above 16 who are about to make the move in to further or higher education. The costs for tuition fees, accommodation, equipment and course materials can quickly stack up and place a strain on finances before the term begins.

Fortunately there are a few options available to support anyone worried about education costs. Here, we highlight the various resources Turn2us has which could help you out:

 

School costs: help from the local council

Depending on which local council in the UK you live in, there may be help with costs including:

  • Free school meals
  • Travel to school
  • School clothing

If you are a parent or a guardian of school age children, and you are living on a low income, check out our Education Costs section to find out how to apply for the help.
 
School meals from September 2014 (England)

Starting this September, certain students will be able to claim free school meals:

  • All pupils in infant state funded schools
  • Disadvantaged students studying at sixth form and further education colleges

To find out more about the scheme, read Gov.UK’s free school meal announcement (link opens in a new window).
 
Money Advice Service Back-to-school planner

Part of the struggles with dealing back to school costs is trying to budget for all of the different expenditure and knowing what to buy when.

Fortunately, a free back-to-school planner (link opens in a new window) by Money Advice Service helps parents and guardians budget and makes managing costs easier. 

 

Students 16+

For anyone who is thinking about carrying on with their studies and living in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, they may be eligible to claim Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). The money is paid to students aged 16 – 19 who live in a household on low income.

Although the EMA scheme in England is closed, many schools and colleges have funds to award bursaries to people who need help.

Read more about Education Maintenance Allowance

 

Benefits and students

It can be complicated trying to navigate the different rules relating to student benefit entitlement:

  • Special rules apply to many benefits for students
  • Full-time students are frequently excluded from certain benefits
  • The income students receive from grants, loans or bursaries can be taken into account for means-tested benefits.

For an easy breakdown of the rules on benefits for students, read our Benefits and Students information

 

Student grants and loans

Visit our student grants and loans information section for more details of how these work and how to apply.

 

Turn2us Grants Search

Our Grants Search tool brings together all of the financial assistance and other support offered by over 3,000 grant-giving charities. Many of the funds offer help to school age children and students in further/higher education.

Some of the help includes grants to pay for equipment, books and other items for students with disabilities or disadvantaged. Some funds also help by covering certain fees.

Due to the length of the application for some charitable funds, it’s important to apply as early as possible.


 

8/27/2014 9:24:35 AM

Confused by numbers? The National Numeracy Challenge can help

Find out more about the National Numeracy Challenge (link opens in a new window)


 

Confused by numbers? Have difficulty understanding bills and bank statements?

You’re not alone. Research from Skills for Life shows that an estimated 17 million adults have numeracy skills roughly equivalent to a primary school child.

National Numeracy, a UK charity that promotes numeracy,  has developed the National Numeracy Challenge to improve adults' confidence and competence when dealing with numbers.

National Numeracy Challenge Online

Central to this is the National Numeracy Challenge Online, an interactive website designed to boost confidence and improve everyday maths skills.

It’s free, confidential and easy to use, designed to measure and improve your everyday maths skills in bite-sized steps, while building your confidence along the way.

Find out more about the National Numeracy Challenge (link opens in a new window)

Source: Money Advice Service news story (27 August 2014): Not confident with your everyday maths skills? (link opens in a new window)

Turn2us managing money resources

Turn2us has a comprehensive managing money section to help you manage your money.  Topics covered include banking, borrowing money, budgeting, debit, making a complaint and managing someone else's money.

Browse the Turn2us managing money information section

Are you struggling to make ends meet? Turn2us resources can help

If you are struggling to make ends meet, help may be available to you through benefits and grants, depending on your needs, circumstances and background.

Turn2us Benefits Calculator and Grants Search

Use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

Turn2us information pages

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.

Also in the news

Anti-poverty research

Scotland

Universal Credit

Date of publication: 27 August 2014

8/26/2014 9:22:33 AM

'Tackling Poverty Across All Ethnicities in the UK' - new Joseph Rowntree Foundation report

Find out more about Joseph Rowntree's research 'Tackling Poverty Across All Ethnicities in the UK' (link opens in a new window)

 

New Joseph Rowntree Foundation research shows that poverty and ethnicity are strongly related, with poverty higher among all ethnic minority groups than among white British people in the UK. However, the links are complex and not well understood

'Tackling Poverty Across All Ethnicities in the UK' summarises findings from the first phase of a research programme
that aims to increase understanding of these links. It also suggests how poverty may be better tackled across all ethnicities in the UK.

Key points

  • Poverty is higher among all ethnic minority groups than among white British people in the UK, but there is variation within and between ethnic groups.
  • Ethnicity interacts with gender, class, education, disability and geography to affect poverty. Racism and discrimination are major factors limiting opportunities for people from ethnic minority groups. It is vital that effective monitoring of outcomes by ethnicity is carried out and used by local and national government, service providers and others involved in employment, education and care.
  • Opportunities for people to move out of poverty were influenced by:
    • The type of employer (and even the specific line manager) people work for
    • The caring needs of their household, how they feel these needs should be met and what support is available
    • Access to informal social networks
    • Entry to local labour markets.
  • Low-paid workers find it hard to gain training, development opportunities and promotion. Workers from ethnic minority backgrounds are strongly affected by these ‘low wage traps’.

Call to action

Employers should act to improve the progression of low-paid workers and economic development plans should include a focus on reducing poverty across all groups.

Jobcentres, employment/education services and community groups can help people expand their social networks and use contacts more effectively.

The research highlighted strong demand for more English as a second language provision and better support for asylum seekers/refugees across a range of services.

Find out more about 'Tackling Poverty Across All Ethnicities in the UK

Date of publication: 26 August 2014

8/22/2014 9:56:58 AM

Malnutrition on the rise because of worsening food poverty

Turn2us Benefits Calculator


 

More people are suffering from malnutrition as a result of worsening food poverty, according to the Faculty for Public Health. Conditions related to poor diet, such as rickets, were becoming more apparent because people could not afford quality food.

The warning comes after recent health figures showed a 19% increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with malnutrition over the past year.

The faculty recently said that UK food prices had risen by 12% since 2007. It also noted that in the same period, UK workers had suffered a 7.6% fall in wages.

Summer schemes to help families feed their children

Several schemes have been running throughout the summer holidays to help families feed their children.

The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of food banks across the UK, said more than 24,000 children attended its centres last August alone - an increase of 21% from the previous June before the summer holidays began.

This, the trust said, highlighted the need for food to be provided during the summer break.

It said a quarter of teachers believed holiday clubs that served breakfast and other meals would ensure children got fed when off school.

Faculty of Public Health's comment

Vice president of the Faculty of Public Health, John Middleton, said food-related ill health was getting worse "through extreme poverty and the use of food banks".

"It's getting worse because people can't afford good quality food. It's getting worse where malnutrition, rickets and other manifestations of extreme poor diet are becoming apparent," he said.

The Faculty of Public Health wrote an open letter to David Cameron on food poverty in May this year, published in 'The Lancet', a leading medical journal. In this, they called for an independent working group to monitor UK nutrition and hunger status to be set up.

Government measures to tackle food poverty and malnutrition

Health Minister Dan Poulter said that the government wanted everyone to live a healthy life and that a good diet was essential.

He said the rise in malnutrition could be partly due to better diagnosis and detection by health professionals of people at risk.

"We want to reduce levels of malnutrition, particularly amongst frail and elderly people," Dr Poulter added.

"We are working with Age UK on a half a million pound project, which aims to tackle the issue in a range of health and care settings.

"We've also given local authorities a £5.4bn budget over two years to help them manage public health issues, including malnutrition, in their areas." 

Read the Faculty of Public Health's Open letter to David Cameron on food poverty in the UK (May 2014) (link opens in a new window)

Source: BBC News: Food poverty: Experts issue malnutrition health warning (link opens in a new window)

Turn2us Benefits Calculator and Grants Search database

If you are struggling to make ends meet, you could use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and the Turn2us Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, depending on your personal circumstances, background and needs.

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Date of publication: 22 August 2014

8/21/2014 9:29:24 AM

Is your child aged 16+ staying on in education or training?

Turn2us Education costs information

 

Hundreds of thousands of pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been receiving their GCSE results this morning. Their future plans with regard to education, training and employment depend on these results.

Education and Skills Act 2008

In 2008, a new law was passed called the Education and Skills Act 2008, which meant that by 2013, all young people in England had to stay on in education or training at least part-time until they are 17 years old. And by next year, all young people will have to stay on in education or training at least part-time, until they are 18 years old.

This means that young people are required to participate in education or training through either:

  • Full-time education or training, including school, college and home education
  • Work-based learning, such as an Apprenticeship
  • Part-time education or training or volunteering more than 20 hours a week.

Is your child staying at school or college beyond 16?

If your child is still in non-advanced education:

  • Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit remain payable up to 20th birthday if child stays in non-advanced education
  • The child remains dependent as far as other benefit rules are concerned
  • A child with severe disabilities might be better off claiming Employment and Support Allowance in their own name at 16. However, they would no longer be a dependent and that has implications for parents. If you want to explore this option, seek advice first. You can use the Turn2us Find an Adviser tool to find a local benefits adviser

Non-advanced courses include:

  • GCSE
  • A Level
  • AS Level
  • NVQ up to Level 3
  • GNVQ up to Intermediate Level
  • Any course that is not 'advanced education'.

Make sure you tell HM Revenue and Customs by 30 August

Please note: You need to inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)  by 30 August each year if your child is staying on in non-advanced education.

See the Turn2us news story: Is your child turning 16? (11 August 2014) for more information.

Benefits and students 16+

The rules regarding benefits entitlement when you are a full-time or part-time student are complicated.

Many benefits have special rules which apply to students Some have rules which exclude most full-time students

Student income from grants, loans or bursaries may be taken into account for means-tested benefits.

The Turn2us benefits and students information section gives more information.

Grants

If you are on a low income and struggling to find money for some of your child's education costs, such as school trips, books and equipment, you can use the Turn2us Grants Search Database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund that gives grants for educational purposes.

Information and resources

The Turn2us Educational Costs information section has information about the financial help that is available for those in education, who is eligible, how much you can get and how to apply.

If you have dependent children 16 or under, see also the Turn2us Expecting or bringing up a child information section. If your children are 16-25 see also the Turn2us information section for Young people.

Sources:

Also in the news

Credit

Domestic abuse

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Date of publication: 21 August 2014

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