With the half-term holidays approaching find out what financial support your family is entitled to

While it feels like no time since the scramble to sort out the school uniforms and all the other back to school essentials, this week sees many schools begin their half-term holidays. For working parents, this mid-term break can present a real challenge as not all parents are in a position to take time off work to coincide with the school holidays. As well as the feelings of guilt of not being able to engage in the very many family activities that are taking place, or spend time with their children when they are off school, many families face increased childcare costs as they are paying for holiday clubs or other childcare for times when older children would usually be at school. With the cost of living crisis hitting families hard, this is an added expense that many parents struggle to afford.

The good news is that most working parents are entitled to financial support with registered childcare costs and this can include holiday and other schemes for older children, as well as registered childminders, day care/creche facilities or other forms of registered childcare. There are four schemes available to help families pay for their childcare:

  • Tax-Free Childcare
  • Universal Credit
  • Tax Credit (no new applications available)
  • Childcare Vouchers (no new applications available)

It can be difficult to work out if your family is eligible for support under one of these schemes but our Family Benefits Advice Service is here to help. Give us a call on 028 926 8200 and we can tell you which is best for you, how much you’ll save and advise you on how to apply. It’s free, impartial and confidential and a quick call to our team could leave you significantly better off.

Supportive employers

It can also be worth speaking with your employer to see if they can support you to balance your work and family life by looking at alternative working arrangements. Since Covid-19 there has been an increasing shift to home working which can help parents to manage their childcare by facilitating school pick ups and drop offs but this is not an option for everyone. Other forms of flexible working are worth exploring such as term-time or condensed hours, job share or part-time working. Parents with a child aged under 18 may also entitled to take parental leave, which is unpaid time off work to care for a child or make arrangements for their welfare. Read more about flexible working and parental leave in our factsheet here.