Financial Help for Families

Universal Credit 

Universal Credit is a benefit that replaces 6 existing benefits with a simpler, single monthly payment if you’re out of work or on a low income.

Universal Credit will help you to be better off in work, start a new job or work more hours.

Universal Credit replaces:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • be 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you're 16 to 17)
  • be under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • be on a low income or out of work
  • You and your partner haev £16,000 or less in savings between you
  • You live in the UK

 If you live with your partner:

  • Your partner’s income and savings will be taken in account, even if they are not eligible for Universal Credit.

 If you have children:

  • The number of children you have does not affect your eligibility for universal credit, but it may affect how much you get.

 If you’re 16 to 17:

You can make a new Universal Credit claim if any of the following apply:

  • You have limited capability for work or you have medical evidence and are waiting for a Work Capability Assessment
  • You’re caring for a severely disabled person
  • You’re responsible for a child
  • You’re in a couple with responsibility for at least one child and your partner is eligible for Universal credit
  • You’re pregnant and it’s 11 weeks or less before your expected of childbirth
  • You’ve had a child in the last 15 weeks
  • You do not have parental support, for example you’re estranged from your parents and you’re not under local authority care

 If you’re in training or studying full-time

You can make a new Universal Credit claim if any of the following apply:

  • You live with your partner and they’re eligible for Universal Credit
  • You’re responsible for a child, either as a single person or as a couple
  • You’re disabled and entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and have limited capability for work
  • You’re in ‘non-advanced education’ (for example studying for A levels or a BTEC National Diploma), are 21 or under and do not have parental support

 How can I check if I am eligible?

 Other financial support

If you’re in financial difficulties, you can either get help and advice from the government, local councils and other organisations.

 Child Tax Credits

Child Tax Credits has been replaced by Universal credit for most people.

 You can only make a new claim for Child Tax Credit if you get the severe disability premium or got it in the past month and are still eligible for it.

 If your child is 16, you can claim up until 31 August after their 16th birthday. If they are in approved education or training, you can claim until their 20th birthday.

 If you cannot make a new claim for Child Tax Credit, you may be able to apply for:

The amount you can get depends on how many children you’ve got and whether you’re:

Child Tax Credit will not affect your Child Benefit.

You can only claim Child Tax Credit for children you’re responsible for.

Working Tax Credit whether you can get Working Tax Credit depends on:

  • The hours of paid work you do each week
  • Your income and circumstances

You can only make a new claim for Working Tax Credit if you get the severe disability premium or got it in the past month and are still eligible for it.

If you cannot make a new claim for Working Tax Credit, you may be able to apply for:

 How can I check if I am eligible?

  • Contact the Tax Credit telephone helpline on 0345 300 3900
  • Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau on 01925 246994
  • Tax Credits calculator – get an estimate of how much you could get in tax credits during the 2019 to 2020 tax year is from 6 April to 5 April the following year.

 Benefit Cap 

The benefit cap is a limit on the total amount you can get. It applies to most people aged 16 or over who have not reached State Pension age. The amount your household gets from some benefits might go down to make sure you do get more than the cap limit. The benefit cap affects:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance (or Widowed Mother’s Allowance or Widow’s Pension if you started getting it before 9 April 2001)
  • Universal Credit

You may not be affected by the benefit cap in certain circumstances, to find out more please visit 

Use the benefit cap calculator to find out how the benefit cap affects you.

Child Benefit

 You get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for bringing up a child who is:

  • Under 16
  • Under 20 if they stay in approved education or training
  • Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child
  • It’s paid every 4 weeks and there’s no limit to how many children you can claim for.

 If you or your partner earn over £50,000

You may have to pay back some of your Child Benefit in tax if your (or your partner’s) individual income is over £50,000.

If your circumstances change

You must report any change of circumstances to the Child Benefit Office.

 You can choose not to get Child Benefit payments, but you should still fill in the claim form because:

To claim, contact the Child Benefit helpline on 0300 200 3100 or visit


2 year old Early Education Funding 

Two year old funded nursery places are available to a limited number of two year old children from the first day of the new term following their second birthday.

Your 2-year-old can get funded early education and childcare if you live in England and get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner have a combined income from work of £15,400 or less a year, after tax
  • tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

 A child can also get free early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

 If you’re eligible funded early education and childcare:

For further information please contact the Families Information Service on 01925 443131 or your registered childcare provider.


 3 & 4 year olds Early Education Funding

Three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of early education over a minimum of 38 weeks to a maximum of 570 hours over a year. This applies until they reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday).

This funding is available to all 3 and 4 year old children regardless of parental income, from the term following the child’s third birthday.

To access this funding your childcare provider must be registered to deliver the early year’s education.

The Early Education funding can be accessed at nursery classes/schools, private nurseries, playgroups, preschools or with an accredited childminder. The level of flexibility that is offered will depend on a provider's individual circumstances.

The following conditions apply:

  • 15 hour entitlement over a minimum of two days
  • A minimum of 2.5 hours and a maximum of 10 hours can be accessed in any 1 day
  • A maximum of two providers at any one time
  • Cannot be accessed before 7 am or after 7 pm
  • Sessions accessed in no less than half hour blocks

30 Hours extended entitlement for 3 & 4 year olds

Working parents of three and four year olds may be eligible for an additional 15 hours funded childcare per week. You may have seen or heard it referred to as 30 hours free childcare.

In order to take advantage of the extended entitlement, the eligibility criteria is as follows;

  • Parent of a child who is 3 or 4 years old
  • You and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £131 per week (equal to 16 hours at the national Minimum or Living Wage) and no more than £100,000 per year
  • If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you’re unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible

Having a 30 hour code does not mean your child is eligible to start their 30 hour place. The table below explains the cut-offs dates by which you must have a valid code to start your place in the next term.

If your child's third birthday falls between:

  • 1 September – 31 December
    *Think about applying around mid- October
    Application deadline is 31 December
  • 1 January – 31 March
    *Think about applying around mid-January
    Application needed is 31 March
  • 1 April – 31 August
    *Think about applying around mid-June
    Application deadline is 31 August

The date your child becomes eligable for a funded place:

  • Spring Term
    In the January after their third birthday with a valid 30 hour code issued by 31 December
  • Summer Term
    In the April after their third birthday with a valid 30 hour code issued by 31 March
  • Autumn Term
    In the September after their third birthday
    with a valid 30 hour code issued by 31 August

Use the Childcare Calculator at to see what offers are available to support you and your family.

To find out more about the new and existing offers, and how they can help you, go to the Childcare Choices website today at Childcare Choices brings together all the government childcare offers in one place for the first time. The new Childcare Choices website makes it easy to find out what’s on offer. 

Tax-Free Childcare Accounts 

Tax credits are closed to new applications for the majority of people from February 2019.

How the scheme works  If you are an existing tax credits customer you can claim back up to 70% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16 (or under 17 for disabled children).

Depending on your income, you could get up to £122.50 a week for one child or £210 for two or more.

The government will top-up the money you pay into the account.

  • For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2.
  • You can receive up to £2,000 per child - that's up to £500 every three months.
  • If you have a disabled child, you can receive up to £4,000 per child - that's up to £1,000 every three months.

You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). 

If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible. 

  • If either you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more, you can’t get Tax-Free Childcare. 

You can’t use Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as childcare vouchers, Universal Credit or tax credits.

You can use it with the 15 hours and 30 hours schemes.

You can use Tax-Free Childcare to help pay:

  • Registered childminders, nurseries and nannies
  • Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
  • Registered schools
  • Home care workers working for a registered home care agency

Free School meals

All state funded infant school children (i.e. those in reception, year 1 and year 2) receive a universal free school lunch.

Other children and young people in full time education who are under the age of 19 are only entitled to free school meals if their parents/carers are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits.

The council is able to check online if you are eligible to receive free school meals.  You may be required to provide paper proof of your entitlement. Foster carers are not entitled to claim free school meals as the fostering allowance includes funds to pay for school meals.

Applications, further details on free school meals and eligibility are available from Warrington Children and Young People’s Services Directorate on 01925 446226 or Free school meals |

Help for Students with children

Care to Learn is a childcare funding scheme for young parents under the age of 20 who wish to start or continue studying.  It

provides help with paying for registered childcare and travel costs and can also give you access to advice and support.   

For further information call the Care to Learn helpline on 0800 121 8989 or log onto

There are a range of funding schemes available to students to assist them with childcare/family costs and other course related costs, depending upon the type of course they are studying and individual circumstances.  For further information about what’s available and also eligibility criteria please check with your local college/university, or visit

Widowed Parent's/Guardians Allowance 

You may get Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA) if all the following apply:

  • Your husband, wife or civil partner died before April 2017
  • You’re under State Pension age
  • You’re entitled to Child Benefit for at least one child and your late husband, wife or civil partner was their parent
  • Your late husband, wife or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions, or they died as a result of an industrial accident or disease

You may also claim WPA if you’re pregnant and your husband has died, or you’re pregnant after fertility treatment after fertility treatment and you civil partner has died.

If your husband, wife or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017 you may be eligible for Bereavement Support Payment instead.

You could get Guardian’s Allowance if you’re bringing up a child whose parents have died. You may also be eligible if there’s one surviving parent. The Guardian’s Allowance rate is £17.60 a week. You get it on top of Child Benefit and it’s tax-free. You must tell the Guardian’s Allowance Unit about certain changes to your circumstances.

You can order a Bereavement Benefits claim pack (form BB1) over the telephone from your local Job Centre plus office. You can also download it from

Fill in the form and send to your local Job Centre Plus office as soon as possible, or you can make a claim over the telephone by contacting the Bereavement Service on 0345 606 0265.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

You could get a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. This is known as a Sure Start Maternity Grant.

You usually qualify for the grant if both of the following apply:

  • you’re expecting your first child, or you’re expecting a multiple birth (such as twins) and have children already
  • you or your partner already get certain benefits
  • If you’re becoming responsible for a child, you must claim within 3 months of this happening.
  • You don’t have to pay the grant back and it won’t affect your other benefits or tax credits
  • If you’re becoming responsible for a child, you must claim within 6 months of this happening. Example If you’re adopting a child, you must claim within 6 months of the child being placed with you.

To claim, contact Sure Start Maternity Grant on 0800 169 0140 or log onto

Maternity Allowance- If you're pregnant or have a new baby but don't qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from any employer, you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA) through Jobcentre Plus. To claim contact the Jobcentre Plus office on 0800 055 6688.

Healthy Start Vouchers

If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, the Healthy Start scheme can help you buy basic foods like milk or fruit. If you qualify for the scheme you’ll be sent vouchers you can use in over 30,000 shops in the UK.

You can also get coupons to swap for free vitamins suitable for:

  • pregnant women
  • breastfeeding women
  • children aged 6 months to 5 years old

If you qualify, you’ll get vouchers worth £3.10 each to spend on:

  • milk
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • plain frozen fruit and vegetables
  • infant formula

 You will qualify for the Healthy Start scheme if either:

  • you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant
  • you have at least 1 child under 4 years old

 In addition, you must be receiving any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (but only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit (but only if your family’s net earnings are £408 or less per month)
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit (but only if your family is receiving the 4 week ‘run-on’ payment)

You’ll also be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme if you’re pregnant and under 18, even if you don’t receive any benefits.

How to claim

Apply for Healthy Start vouchers by filling in the online form and printing it out.

You’ll need to get your midwife, health visitor or registered doctor or nurse to sign it before returning it to:

Healthy Start Issuing Unit
PO Box 1067
WA55 1EG

Or you can download the form directly from the website:

Download ‘Healthy Start application form’ (PDF, 86KB)

You can also get an application form from your midwife or ‘health visitor’, or by phoning the Healthy Start helpline.

Healthy Start helpline
Telephone: 0345 607 6823
Find out about call charges

Warm Home Discount Scheme

You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2017 to 2018 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The money isn’t paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between September and March.

You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out.

The discount won’t affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

Pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meters

You can still qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.

Your electricity supplier can tell you how you’ll get the discount if you’re eligible, for example a voucher you can use to top up your meter.

Park (mobile) homes

You apply a different way if you live in a park home.

Contact Charis Grants for more information about the scheme for park homes.

Charis Grants Ltd
Telephone: 0330 555 9424
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm (closed on bank holidays)
Find out about call charges

Budget Boosting Clubs

The council offers Budget Boosting Clubs in central Warrington for people who may be struggling to get a job or finding it difficult to make ends meet

Come along to your local budget boosting club….

Get free advice and support to help you find employment and boost your income in a friendly, welcoming environment.

We can help you to:

  • Search for jobs online
  • Apply for jobs and complete application forms
  • Write your CV & cover letter
  • Improve your skills at interview
  • Check benefit entitlement
  • Find free on-line training courses

We can also:

  • Sign post you to all kinds of services that can help you to boost your income
  • Provide tips on how to save money
  • Help you get a better deal on your services/suppliers and reduce your bills
  • Help you to get signed up to a credit union
  • Help you to shop online within your budget – find out how online shopping can save you money

Clubs are available as follows:

  • Mondays - 10am-12pm: Oakwood Hub, 2 Whitethroat Walk, Oakwood, WA3 6PG
  • Mondays - 1.30pm-3.00pm Radley Common Community Centre, Grasmere Avenue, WA2 0LR
  • Tuesdays - 10am-12pm: Orford Community Hub, Festival Avenue, Orford, WA2 9EP
  • Wednesdays - 10am-12.30pm: Fearnhead Community Centre, Insall Road, WA2 0HD
  • Wednesdays - 1pm-3.30pm: Westy Community Centre, Bridgewater Avenue, WA4 1TA
  • Thursdays - 10am-12pm: Whitecross Community Centre, Lexden Street, WA6 1PT
  • Fridays – 10am-12pm Warrington Library, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

For further information on the council’s budget boosting clubs, call Tracy Williams on 01925 231470 or contact

The information contained within this page has been extracted from various reliable sources, and whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of printing, it is only intended as a guide. Please contact the relevant organisation for the latest information.