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Under new Government plans, parents on low incomes who are employed for less than 16 hours per week will be eligible to receive Childcare support from 2013. Some £300 million has been allocated to low income families - up to £175 per week for one child and £300 for two children or greater. Ministers claim that the new plans will benefit 80,000 families in receipt of universal credit.
Charities had been campaigning for the Government to increase the amount spent on Childcare support. The universal credit system will comprise a single payment, designed to replace a range of benefits, including child tax credit, working tax credit, income-related jobseeker's allowance, Housing benefit, income support, and income-related employment support allowance. The new system will be introduced in 2013 and is expected to continue into the next parliament. The universal credit system budget had originally been set at £2 billion. Under the current system, families are able to receive credits to cover up to 70 per cent of their weekly Childcare costs. However, only parents who work more than 16 hours per week are eligible to benefit from this scheme. The exact amount received depends upon income; couples with an income of up to £41,000 are able to qualify for credits. Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Secretary, said that the Government is determined to provide financial support to those who wish to take their first steps into the world of work. Duncan Lewis’ Welfare Benefits solicitors can explain the complex benefits system in terms that the layman is able to understand. The department can assess clients’ eligibility to a range of benefits.