We are now in the middle of the school holidays and some of us are still waiting for the summer weather to start!
Over the summer months childcare can require even more planning than during term time. Many parents are using different childcare through summer schemes or extra childcare to cover those hours where children would normally be in school. This can put even more of a strain on the purse and wallet.
For some parents the summer months are a time of transition, with children looking forward to starting Primary One. Often parents use this time of natural progression to re-enter the workforce, either after a period of maternity leave or a more extended time out of work.
Your childcare options can include registered childminders, day nurseries and out of school clubs which may also have extra places available during school holidays. Holiday activity schemes, run by local councils or community groups, are a good way of keeping your children entertained. Holiday activity schemes operate differently from standard childcare services in that they are not required to be registered and the number of hours or days they cover may differ. Many schools now recognise the advantages of offering childcare on their premises and run breakfast clubs, afterschool clubs and holiday clubs.
Is there any financial support available for summer childcare?
There is support available to parents towards the cost of registered or approved childcare. Childcare on school premises is usually registered or approved through the local Health and Social Care Trust or Education and Library Board, so parents may be entitled to receive money through tax credits, or to make a saving on the cost of the childcare through the Childcare Voucher scheme. Check your eligibility – you may be glad of the extra help, especially if your childcare costs are substantially higher over the school holidays or you have to pay a deposit or payments in advance to hold or secure your child’s place.
Help! I’ve missed the deadline for my Tax Credit renewal
At this time of year, with holidays and changes to the normal routine, it is all too easy for time and deadlines to slip by or paperwork to be left in a pile to deal with at a later date.
You should have contacted the Tax Credit Office to renew your claim or report any changes by 31st July. If you haven’t, then the Tax Credit Office will:
•stop your tax credit payments
•send you a statement showing you whether you've been paid too much, or not enough, in tax credits.
You will then have a further 30 days to provide the information asked for in the renewal pack.
If you don't provide the information within 30 days, you will usually have to make a new tax credit claim, and are likely to lose out on payments you may have been eligible for.
The Tax Credit Office will ask you to pay back any overpayments from the last tax year and any payments made to you since 6 April.
The HMRC Tax Credit helpline number is 0345 300 3900