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Support available for families of children returning to school

  • 03/09/2019

National charity Turn2us is urging families who are facing financial difficulty to research charitable grants to cover back to school costs

With the new academic year beginning for most primary and secondary schools in the UK this week, it is important for parents or carers of children to get support if they need help rather than relying on high-cost credit or other options.  

Turn2us is a national anti-poverty charity that provides help via its Benefits Calculator, Grants Search and helpline. There are 1,700 funds on the Turn2us Grants Search Tool, with almost 10% of those specifically for children. In the last year over 700,000 people completed a grant search on the charities website.

For people worried about back to school support they can use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator, grants search tool or Helpline if they are concerned about their finances.

Dawn Jackson, Head of Grants at Turn2us said:

“The start of the new academic year is a busy time for most parents/carers; this can be exacerbated with financial stress associated with children starting school or older students going to college or university.

“Needing to buy uniforms, stationery or books, or having to pay large childcare costs for younger children can add to their parents’ burden. We want to empower those who feel financially vulnerable or at risk of going into debt by providing resources to help find alternative support.”

Additionally, Turn2us has these tips for people financially daunted by the new academic year:

Help with childcare costs

  • All three to four year olds in England can get free early education or childcare of 15 hours a week. Some two year olds are also eligible. If you are eligible, you can get as much as 30 hours free childcare a week, at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits, childcare vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.
  • Tax-free childcare - you can get up to £500 every three months for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare – or £1,000 if your child has a disability. However, you can’t get TFC if you claim Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers.
  • In some cases may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible for Universal Credit.

Help for back to school costs

  • For those on low or no income, there are a number of benefits you might be able to claim, alongside charitable grants. Turn2us offers a Benefits Calculator and a Grants Search to help with these.
  • Over a million children are eligible for Free School Meals. To find out if you can apply, get in touch with your local council.
  • Many local councils have their own schemes to help you with the cost of buying new school uniforms.
  • Some children are eligible for help with the cost of transport to and from school. Again, contact your local council to find out what they can help with.

Help for students

While most full-time students are excluded from claiming means-tested benefits, there are some exceptions, one being Universal Credit. For example, you can claim Universal Credit if:

  • You are under 21, doing a course that will lead to a qualification at the same level as or below A levels (such as Scottish Highers, NVQ up to level 3), and do not and cannot live with your parents; or
  • You are responsible for a child; or
  • You get Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and you have limited capability for work. (This can be complicated – find an adviser); or
  • You are over Pension Credit age; or
  • You live with a partner who can claim Universal Credit; or
  • You have taken time out from your course for illness or caring responsibilities, are now recovered/your caring responsibilities have ended, and you are waiting to go back to your course.

Those claiming will carry on being counted as a student during the holidays. If you are a full-time student and you live with a partner who is not a student, they may be able to claim means-tested benefits for you both. The charity also recommends that those unable to claim Universal Credit consider charitable grants as a support.

The charity recommends that those who are worried about financial support visit www.turn2us.org.uk or call the helpline on 0808 802 2000 to check what benefits or charitable grants they may be eligible for.

Additionally, Turn2us has these tips for people financially daunted by the new academic year: