Are you missing out on financial support available to families?

Whether your're saving up for the future, sending kids to university or just doing the weekly shop, your family deserves all the financial help it can get. Yet new research undertaken by OneFamily1 reveals that more than half of eligible families aren't making the most of all the support they could be.

From Child Benefit to ISAs and Help to Buy, there's a wide range of government policies designed to help families financially. However, our survey found as many as 53% of people don't take full advantage of them.

Taken together, this could add up to billions of pounds every year. It's cash that could be putting more students into higher education, enabling families to move into bigger homes, or saving up bigger nest eggs for whatever the future brings.

1. Research undertaken by YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,089 adults. Fieldwork undertaken between 27-28 May 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).


Why don't people claim the available support?

In our survey of over 2,000 adults, 41% of those not taking advantage of the various types of support available didn't think they were eligible for it, while 14% didn't think the savings were significant enough to make it worthwhile. Would you?

However, it’s often the case that people simply don't know about them:

48% were aware of childcare vouchers

46% of married people were unaware of Marriage Tax Allowance

44% had heard of free childcare for three to four-year-olds, a scheme that will be extended in 2016

71% were unaware of the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit

15% knew about the Widowed Parent's Allowance

4% had heard of Class 3 National Insurance credits


3.8 billion missed childcare

It's estimated that if all people who believe they're eligible for free childcare for three to four-year-olds claimed it, parents in the UK would have £3.8 billion2 extra to spend every year. And with the allowance from the scheme set to double to 30 hours a week in 2016, it's the perfect time for more parents to start claiming what they're entitled to.

2. The £3.8bn potential saving from unclaimed free childcare is based on a maximum potential saving of £2,504 per annum, per family, based on figures from the Family and Childcare Trust. The YouGov survey results showed 3.54% of the UK adult population, which equates to 1,515,047,40 (ONS mid 2013), think they are missing out based on the eligibility criteria.  The total UK saving if all those missing out were to benefit, would therefore be £3,799,738,879.

What else are people missing?

The single most underused government policy was revealed to be Help to Buy. Even though nearly one in five (19%) believed they were eligible for it, less than one per cent actually benefits from the scheme, which helps families to get a foot on the property ladder by offering mortgages with a five per cent deposit.

Marriage Tax Allowance, which lets married couples pay less tax if one partner earns less than £10,600 a year, also frequently goes unclaimed – just three per cent make use of the policy, even though nearly one in five (18%) believe they are eligible. This is hardly surprising, though, as our survey found nearly half (46%) of people don't even know it exists.

help to buy
using help to buy
marriage tax allowance
using marriage tax allowance

Grandparents often step in to look after little ones for Mum and Dad, and Class 3 National Insurance Credits are designed to reward this – yet less than one per cent of grandparents surveyed had claimed them and only six per cent had heard of them.

Giving family finances a boost

The combined value of all this potential assistance is enormous, and for individual families it can add up to hundreds of pounds every year. With so many people unaware of the range of financial support available to them, clearly more needs to be done to raise awareness and encourage those who are eligible to take advantage of what’s on offer.

With this in mind, here are some of the common policies that can help to give family finances a boost:

Policy Savings Notes

Child benefit

SAVE... Up to £1,788.80 annually for families with two children

You get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training). Parents are entitled to £20.70 per week for the eldest or only child, and £13.70 per week for every child thereafter. If a parent earns more than £50,000 a year, and claims Child Benefit, they will have to pay a tax charge.

For more information please visit:

Child Tax Credit

SAVE... Up to £5,560 annually for a family with two healthy children

You could get Child Tax Credit for each child you’re responsible for if they’re under 16 or under 20 and in approved education or training. Depending on your income you could receive up to £2,780 a year per child, up to £3,140 in addition to this per disabled child, and up to £1,275 in addition to each of these for every severely disabled child.

For more information please visit:

Marriage Allowance

SAVE... Up to £212 annually

This policy allows married couples made up of one non-taxpayer (earning less than £10,600 a year) and one basic-rate taxpayer (earning between £10,600 and £42,385 a year) to share some of the non-taxpayer’s unused annual income tax allowance. Up to £1,100 of unused income tax allowance can be transferred, allowing couples to save up to £212 a year.

For more information please visit:

Childcare vouchers

SAVE... Up to £930 annually for a single parent, or £1,860 if both parents claim

Childcare vouchers, which are available through employers, can help save many parents, with kids aged up to 15, hundreds of pounds a year on childcare. They are designed to help cover childcare costs up to 1 September after your child's 15th birthday, and the allowance you are given depends on how much you earn: basic-rate (20%) taxpayers receive £55/week, amounting to a maximum annual tax/NI saving of £930, higher-rate (40%) taxpayers receive £28/week, amounting to a maximum annual tax/NI saving of £630, and top-rate (45%) taxpayers receive £25/week, amounting to a maximum annual tax/NI saving of £590.

For more information please visit:

Free childcare for three to four year olds

SAVE... Up to £2,504.12 saving annually per child

All three to four year olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year. This is usually taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year. You can start claiming free childcare after your child turns three. The free early education and childcare can be at all types of nurseries and nursery classes, playgroups and pre-school, childminders or Sure Start Children’s Centres.

[For children aged two and over, 25 hours of childcare costs an average of £109.83 a week in a nursery, according to figures from the Family and Childcare Trust’s 2015 childcare costs survey. This gives an average childcare cost of £4.39/hour. 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year would therefore amount to a £2,504.12 saving]

For more information please visit:

Childcare element of Working Tax Credit

SAVE... Up to £10,920 – based on two children in childcare, annually

You could get extra tax credits to help pay for some of your childcare costs while you’re working. You can get up to £122.50 extra per week for one child, or £210 extra for two or more children - it depends on how much you earn. To be eligible for the credit, you’ll need to work at least 16 hours per week, use registered or approved childcare and be eligible for Working Tax Credit, which you are eligible for if your household earns less than £41,700 with one child, less than £59,600 with two children, less than £66,400 with three or less than £73,100 with four.

For more information please visit:

Help to Buy

SAVE... Up to £120,000 as a loan

The Help to Buy scheme offers two main types of financial support that may help you, or your children, move onto or up the property ladder. With a Help to Buy equity loan the Government lends you up to 20% of the cost of your new-build home, so you’ll only need a five per cent cash deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest. With a Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee, the Government offers lenders the option to purchase a guarantee on mortgage loans for new build or existing homes. Because of this support, lenders taking part are able to offer home buyers more high-loan-to-value mortgages (80-95%), so you pay a lower deposit (from five per cent). Help to Buy support is available to first time buyers as well as homeowners looking to move. The home you want to buy must have a price tag of up to £600,000. You won’t be able to sublet this home or enter a part exchange deal on your old home. You must also not own any other property at the time you buy.

For more information please visit:

Widowed Parent’s Allowance

SAVE... Up to £5,852.60 annually

You may claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance if you’re widowed (and had not divorced or remarried) under State Pension age and have at least one dependent child. You may also be able to claim if you’re pregnant and your husband has died, or you’re pregnant after fertility treatment and your civil partner has died. The amount you get is based on how much your late husband, wife or civil partner paid in National Insurance contributions. The maximum Widowed Parent’s Allowance is £112.55 a week, which you can claim until you stop being entitled to Child Benefit.

For more information please visit:

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)

SAVE... Varies depending on individual circumstances

You may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) or Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if your baby is due on or after 5 April 2015 or you adopt a child on or after 5 April 2015. SPL allows a mother to share her remaining leave with a partner if she ends her maternity leave early, so couples can decide for themselves how to share time off after their baby is born. If a mother decides to take maternity pay instead of full maternity leave, ShPP allows their partner to claim this allowance instead of them.

For more information please visit:

Class 3 National Insurance credits

SAVE... Varies depending on individual circumstances. Class 3 National Insurance credits can help an individual accrue enough NI credits to qualify for the state pension if they would not have otherwise done so.

If you are a family member over 16 but under State Pension age and you’re caring for a child under 12 (usually while the parent or main carer is working), you can apply for Class 3 National Insurance credits. For another family member to be eligible for the National Insurance credits, working parents need to give up the NI credits they receive when they claim child benefit and transfer them to the person doing the caring.

For more information please visit:

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.