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Thread: Sure Start and entitlements

  1. #1
    Registered User Josephine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Sure Start and entitlements

    Hi ladies

    (copied from the sticky in the Single Parent section)

    When I was made redundant 3 days before Christmas last year (2008), I had no clue what to do, how I was going to provide for me and my son? That's when a friend mentioned an organization called 'SureStart'; This organization advise and assist low income and single parent families in day to day lives, whether it be a shoulder to cry on, financial advice in regards to what you are entitled to, linking you up with other families in your situation, daycare drop in centers and so forth.

    Over the past 2 months, my family liaison, Izzy, has been a big help; she has found out everything I am entitled too as a single parent, how to go about applying/getting it, play groups in the area and discounts (this is a big thing, surestart can help you with discounts). I am now able to get more toys for Joseph from another family who are giving them away, I can also donate Joseph's baby clothes to a family that need them and I am also being able to deal with my PND a little better.

    I know how hard it is to get by on a low income, I was on £16.5k p/a (before losing my job), which may seem a lot to some of you but when my rent is £650 p/m and my child care costs are the exact same amount, I had nothing left, so I heavily depended on my working tax credits and child care payments to get by..............surestart are there for you, you are still entitled to certain schemes on a low income (this depends on your working tax creds though, some schemes do not allow this).

    I have quoted below the 'About Us' page, from the SureStart website;

    What Sure Start is here to do

    Sure Start is a government programme which aims to achieve better outcomes for children, parents and communities by:

    increasing the availability of childcare for all children
    improving health and emotional development for young children
    supporting parents as parents and in their aspirations towards employment.
    How will we achieve our aims?

    We will achieve our aims by:

    helping services development in disadvantaged areas alongside financial help for parents to afford childcare
    rolling out the principles driving the Sure Start approach to all services for children and parents.
    Sure Start nationwide

    The policies and programmes of Sure Start apply in England only. Responsibility for early education and childcare in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland rests with the separate devolved administrations.
    For more information, please visit

    Please don't sit about thinking you can't get by, there are things out there for single parents and non-working parents, you just have to dig for them.

    Without SureStart, I wouldn't have known about the low payment Schemes the energy companies have for those out of work i.e if you spend 10% or more of your monthly income on energy bills, you can qualify for 20% off your bills and more, you have to apply for it, this relates to Southern Electric, other energy companies hold similar schemes. Water companies can lower your monthly payments but you will carry over those underpayments to the following year, your TV license will stay a fixed rated of around £27 pound and then after 5 months, will go down to £11.

    Please be advised though, that these energies schemes do not relate to those who are on meters but only those who pay by direct debit. Did you also know, with most energy companies, you get a 2 - 5% discount on your monthly bills by paying with a direct debit.

    (when calling your gas/elec companies up, mention that you spoke to your CAB office, they are more likely to give you the info you want, as they seem to fob off people, saying they don't hold these schemes, when they actually do but each company differ)

    As a single parent in the borough of Wokingham, once your child is over 12 months old, you are entitled for private housing of up to £824.50p p/m for a 2 bedroom (as long as you do not have a capital). Councils will also cover the cost of your council tax if you are unemployed, if you are working and a single parent, you are entitled to 25% off your council tax bills (please check with your borough council as the private renting schemes may differ with prices).

    There is also a scheme called 'Healthy Start';

    How do you qualify for this? If you are pregnant or have a child under the age of 4 years old and;

    * you or your family get income support
    * you or your family get income-based jobseekers allowance or
    * you and your family get child tax credit (but not working tax credit unless your family is receiving working tax credit run on only) and have an annual family income of £15,575 or less (2008/09)
    * your pregnant and under the age of 18 yrs old.

    (working tax credit run-on, is the working tax cred you receive 4 weeks immediately after you have stopped working for 16hrs or more per week)

    For some Heathly Start is the new name for the Welfare Food Scheme; instead of milk tokens, you will now received HS vouchers to spend on milk, fresh fruit and veg and formula, you are also entitled to vitamin supplements. I have taken this info from the booklet I was given, so under healthy start you can get;

    * If you're pregnant, you get one voucher a week worth £3.00
    * for each baby under the age of one, your family gets two vouchers a week, worth £6.00
    * for each child aged over one and under four, your family gets one voucher a week worth £3.00

    These vouchers can be used in any 'Healthy Start' shops that have agreed to abide by this scheme, these can involve

    * Greengrocers
    * Corner Shops
    * Milkmen
    * Food co-op's
    * Market Stalls
    * Supermarkets
    * Chemists
    * Box schemes

    If you have a query about Healthy Start, you can call their customer advice line on 0845 607 6823, their website can be found at

    If you suddenly become unemployed, as a parent, you will be better off on income support (attend an interview once every 6 months) rather than jobseeker's allowance (sign on once a week). You will start off on the basic £60.00 a week, after a few months, this goes up by £7.50 (I think). Keeping in mind that the government/job centre support mothers in the choice not to work until your child starts school. With income support, you can take your time, there is no pressure to find a job and te job centre will pretty much leave you alone, on jobseeker's allowance, it's not as laid back. Of course, this is up to you but Income Support is the better option for stay at home mummies.

    Job Centre Plus can take a while to start payments ( took me 2 months), unfortunately, the best defence to take with these guys is to tell them how desperate you are for them to pay. They can offer you an interim payment, but asking is better or if you are or metered utilities, you can apply for an emergency payment which comes in the form of a loan from the job centre (interest free and paid back about £10 a month). I have pasted the parents section of the Job centre's webpage below, if you wish to contact them about income support/job seekers allowance, their number is 0845 608 8501. Also, if you have applied for housing benefit, the council will need to see your reward letter from the Job centre, if you have not received payments yet, let the council know this as they can gain the relevant information without holding your application.

    Just one more thing, I promise whilst you are unemployed, you can apply for courses which are government funded, you may, with some schemes get £30.00 a week for attending these courses but this is something you will have to look into as some regions may differ.

    I'm sure a majority of our PF members may know about the info I have mentioned but I thought I would set up a thread, for those who didn't know there are entitlements at hand.

    Hope this helps

    Jo xx
    Mummy to an Autistic boy

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    The land of make believe.

    Re: Sure Start and entitlements

    Thumbs up for Surestart Centres-I work at one of the Centres and we're all about families and assisting as much as possible

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Re: Sure Start and entitlements

    i love surestart!!!!

    i take summer to the 'stay n play', 'messy play' and a few other groups, they are great, cheap and friendly

    i have also done a part time college course in nail art free of charge and am at the moment doing a part time college course in make up/ beauty for free, even get a free creche place for summer!!!! its not means tested so even though my hubby earns a decent wage i still get to go, its great getting out for the afternoon, getting a new qualification and summer loves her break from me 2

  4. #4

    Re: Sure Start and entitlements

    I cant seem to find where to send off my surestart grant form to? Its not on the form or website, does anyone know where I should be sending it?

  5. #5
    Registered User sarafet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Re: Sure Start and entitlements

    Quote Originally Posted by Claire86
    I cant seem to find where to send off my surestart grant form to? Its not on the form or website, does anyone know where I should be sending it?
    google the number for the main office and they'll tell you where. i'm sure i had to send mines to my local jobcentre!
    Aiden is 7 years old.

    Damon is 5 years old.

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