Benefits you're entitled to: Child 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 Child Tax Credit.
What is it?
This payment is meant to help with the cost of bringing up children. It does not include help with childcare, which comes under Working Tax Credit. Children you are claiming for must be 16 or under, or aged between 16 and 20 and in fulltime ‘non-advanced' education (eg sixth form rather than university).
How much might you get?
Child Tax Credit is means tested, but it is complicated to try to work out how much you will get. It consists of a family element - paid for the whole family; a child element, for each child; and disability elements for children who are disabled. The basic amount is £545 a year, but many people receive extra elements on top of this, including up to £2,780 per child.
There is no set limit for the household income limit for those receiving the credit – as a guide it is often £26,000 for the household of a one-child family.
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.