Coronavirus: Disability benefits ‘complicated’ says Martin Lewis
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Families could be entitled to this extra money to help with everyday costs if they have a child under 16 who is disabled or has a health condition. How much parents earn doesn’t impact if they can claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and they could get between £23.60 and £151.40 a week.
The warning comes from Citizens Advice who say the number of enquiries from parents and carers on how to manage school-related costs at this time of year has increased by 20 percent over the last 12 months.
Rachel Ingleby, Benefits Expert at Citizens Advice, said the start of the school year is always a financial burden for families.
“We know the start of the school year can be expensive,” she said.
“And with rising energy costs and a looming cut to Universal Credit, pressure will be added to many people’s already stretched budgets.
“If you’ve claimed benefits for the first time during this pandemic, or have seen your circumstances change, it’s worth checking whether you can apply for extra help with costs such as school lunches, transport or uniforms.
“Anyone who needs help finding out what support is available can contact their nearest Citizens Advice or Local Education Authority.”
As well as checking whether you are eligible for DLA, Ms Ingleby has some other top tips for parents or guardians whose children are due to go back to school in England next week.
Some families will have seen their circumstances change during the pandemic and won’t know what they are entitled to claim.
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Back-to-school checklist for those eligible for benefits:
School uniform: according to Government research, the average price of secondary school uniform and P.E kit costs over £300.
Free school meals: children in Reception, year one and year two automatically get free school meals.
If a person has older children, they can apply for free school meals if you get certain benefits.
If they applied for free school meals after April 1 2018, they would be eligible if they earn less than £7,400 a year without benefits.
To apply for free school meals one needs to contact the local authority, and the details can be checked at Gov.uk by typing the postcode in.
Transport: If children are aged between 5 to 16, the local education authority might offer free or lower cost transport if they don’t live near school or the child’s unable to walk there. Contact one’s local education authority for help.
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Uniforms: The local education authority might also be able to help with other costs, like uniforms, music lessons or trips and activities. Schools can also sometimes advise on finding second hand uniforms.
Citizens Advice is also urging people not to forget that if their child is staying in education after year 11, they must tell HMRC. This is so that they can continue receiving Child Benefit and any extra support for children with means-tested benefits.
HMRC will send a letter asking whether the child plans to stay in education or training when the child turns 16 and it’s important to respond or benefits could stop.
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