I have young children and have been struggling to pay for basic necessities. Is there any further support available to me?

I have young children and have been struggling to pay for basic necessities. Is there any further support available to me?

Child Benefit is available to anyone in Scotland who is a parent or responsible for bringing up a child. This benefit is not means tested, however if one of the parents earns over £50,000 they may be liable for a tax-charge.

For 2023/2024, this payment is paid at a rate of £24 a week for the oldest child and £15.90 a week for each additional child.

It is usually paid every 4 weeks, however, can be paid weekly to those receiving Income Support, Income-Based Job Seekers Allowance, or single parents.

You can claim Child Benefit as soon as you have registered the birth of your child and can apply for this online.

Scottish Child Payment

In addition to Child Benefit, the Scottish Government have introduced the “Scottish Child Payment” which is further financial help for those in Scotland who look after a child under the age of 16. This is a weekly payment of £25 for each child.

To qualify for this, you must be in receipt of a qualifying benefit such as, Universal Credit, Child-Tax or Working-Tax Credit, Income-Based Job Seekers Allowance, Pension Credit, Income Support, or Income-Related Employment Support Allowance.

This benefit can be applied for either online, over the phone or via post.

Support with childcare costs

Anyone claiming Universal Credit is eligible for help towards childcare costs. They may be able to claim back up to 85% of these costs. Once in receipt of Universal Credit, you must also be either in work or have received a job offer to be eligible.

The rates which you can claim back have increased for 2023 by almost 50%, bringing the total to £950.92 for 1 child and £1,630.15 for 2 or more children.

The Government will also help eligible parents cover the costs for their first month’s childcare when they enter work or significantly increase their hours. They may also be able to claim free childcare hours for any child aged between the ages of 2 and 4.

You can apply for this by either logging into your account online, or by contacting the Universal Credit Helpline.

Tax-Free Childcare

For parents in work who are not entitled to Universal Credit, there is also support to help them with childcare costs, known as Tax-Free Childcare.

To be entitled to this support you must earn at least the National Minimum Wage for 16 hours a week or more and have a National Insurance Number.

If you have moved to Scotland from a foreign country, you must also have settled or pre-settled status.

You can get up to £500 every 3 months for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. This increases to £1000 every 3 months if a child is disabled.

To receive this, you set up an account online and for every £8 you pay into it, the government will pay in £2. All of the funds can then be used to pay the childcare provider.

You can receive Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as the 30 hours free childcare if you are eligible for both.

Both the Universal Credit childcare element and Tax-Free Childcare help can only be used to pay for approved childcare, such as registered childminders, nurseries, nannies, after school clubs and play schemes.

You can access free, impartial advice on any topic from advice.scot by contacting 0808 800 9060 or by visiting www.advice.scot. Advice is available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance.