Benefits you're entitled to: Working Tax Credit
However, many families do not get the help that they need, either because they do not understand the system, or because they think that they are not entitled to anything.
Here's the Moneywise guide to claiming Working Tax Credit.
What is it?
Working Tax Credit tops up the earnings of those on low incomes, whether employed or self-employed. You don't have to have children to qualify, but if you do you may also be eligible for the childcare element of working tax credit, which gives money for registered childcare to allow you to work. If you are disabled you may receive more.
How much might you get?
Eligibility for Working Tax Credit depends on how many hours you work. If you have no dependent children and are under 60 you must work at least 30 hours a week to receive the credit. Single parents and those over 60 must work at least 16 hours a week. Couples with children must work at least 24 hours a week between them, although there are some exceptions to this.
If you are eligible, the amount you receive will depend on your income and the cost of your childcare. The amount you will get will be made up of various elements depending on your eligibility. For example, maximum for the basic element of Working Tax Credit is £1,960 a year, while there is a lone parent element of £2,010. Childcare tax credits will cover 70% of childcare. The most that can be paid for a registered provider for one child is £122.50 a week and £210 a week if you have more than one child in childcare.
How can I work out what other benefits I'm eligible for?
The amount of money families receive from benefits varies wildly depending on circumstances. The government website gov.uk has details of how to contact different departments, while the tax credits helpline is available on 0345 300 3900.
The charity website Turn2us.org.uk includes a calculator that allows you to input all of your circumstances and work out your entitlements, while the charity also has a free helpline on 0808 802 2000.
Another benefits calculator is available at entitledto.co.uk.
Child tax credit
A scheme started in 2003 that sought to replace a raft of other tax credits and benefits, the payout depends on the number of dependant children in a family, and its level of income. The amount of credit is reduced as income increases. It is payable to the main carer of a child, usually the mother, and is available whether or not the recipient is working.