Consumer Rights: Here's a lesson in how to get free childcare
Schools are being encouraged to offer places for two-year-olds ... but will your youngster qualify?
Saturday 08 February 2014
Schools are being encouraged to take in two-year-olds to help make more childcare places available. That encouragement will include changes to legislation to make it easier for schools to offer places to the terrible twos.
As it stands all three- and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of free early education each week for 38 weeks of the year. Once your child is three years old you can start claiming free early education from 1 September, 1 January or 1 April. Children can get their free early education at nursery schools, nurseries, children's centres, some playgroups and pre-school childminders. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own schemes. Your local authority anywhere in the UK will be able to give you details.
Some two-year-olds in England can also already qualify for free early education if their parents are getting certain welfare benefits or tax credits.
Most parents of two-year-olds however don't qualify for free places. If your child doesn't get free early education but you're in work you may be eligible for some help towards the costs of paying for it yourself. You may be able to get extra tax credits. Single parents who work 16 hours or more a week, and couples where both work 16 hours or more a week, or where one works and the other is entitled to certain benefits or is in hospital or prison, can get help with childcare costs. You could get up to £7 of every £10 you spend on childcare costs up to a maximum of £175 a week for one child and £300 a week for two or more.
If none of the above applies to you, your employer may step in and help. Many give staff childcare vouchers, arrange childcare for employees' children, provide a workplace nursery or even pay childcare fees direct or give employees cash.
Some parents still studying may also get help. If you're 20 or over and on a further education course you may get Discretionary Learner Support to pay for childcare. If you're in full-time higher education you can apply for a Childcare Grant to pay for children under 15, or under 17 if they have special needs. Care to Learn is another scheme for people under 20 caring for their own child. .
On top of all the existing help for parents, there are new rules from September 2014. From then more two-year-olds in England will be eligible for free early education. As well as the current rules, a child will then also be eligible if any of the following apply: if a parent gets Working Tax Credits and earns no more than £16,190 a year, they have a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan, they get Disability Living Allowance, or the child left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order.
Many parents are eligible for help with childcare costs, others have to pay. Nursery fees have risen by nearly a third in the past three years and the average cost of a nursery place for a child aged two or over for 25 hours a week is now £107 – well outside the reach of many parents.
But often it's a lack of places that causes most difficulty. And that's what the Education Department is hoping to tackle with this week's announcement, writing to every council in England to suggest school nurseries should extend opening hours to allow parents to leave two-year-olds during the working day. Ministers reckon opening up the system will help provide tens of thousands more childcare places and encourage mothers to go back into part-time work.
The Government has given 49 primary schools a grant of up to £1,000 each to help establish the best way to educate and care for two-year-olds. The idea is that they will share their experiences and encourage more schools to follow suit. The money will pay for new buildings, resources, and staff training.
If it all works out, more places for more children may even push down fees for those for whom no financial help is available. But the Government shouldn't reckon without mums. They know best and many feel they're being put under pressure to get back to work at a time when it's better for them and their two-year-olds to be at home together - bonding.
Q: I'm planning to ask my girlfriend to marry me on Valentine's Day and my mum has given me her mother's engagement ring to give to my girlfriend. It's only worth about £300 but it's lovely and I know my mum wouldn't want it to go out of the family if my girlfriend and I broke up at some point. Am I entitled to ask for the ring back if something goes wrong? FT
A: In the normal course of events, a gift is a gift so your girlfriend would be entitled to keep the ring if the you split up. You will have to explain it isn't an outright gift and that you would expect her to return it if you split up. If she accepts it under those terms, she should give it back.
But if a split is acrimonious it could come down to one word against the other. You could become embroiled in the kind of argument where you claim you explained the situation but she claims the ring was an outright gift. It can be very difficult to resolve those situations, so you really do need the extra safeguard of drawing up a written agreement that says the ring will be returned to you if you split up.
Both should sign in front of a witness, date the agreement and each keep a copy. Keep it safe and hope you never need it. I hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day but it might be better not to have the ring conversation on the same day you pop the question!
Mark Dampier: 'We're on our own in retirement. They've pulled pensions to pieces'
Questions of Cash: I don't use Amazon Prime, but my credit card bill says I do
HSBC becomes first bank to offer five-year fixed rate mortgage with interest rate under 2%
Crippling PFI deals leave Britain £222bn in debt
Pension freedoms: How to deal with cold calls from scammers
- 1 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 2 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...
Day In a Page
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000