Tax credits and early years ebulletin | CPAG

Tax credits and early years ebulletin

Date: 
29 May 2020
Issue: 
May 2020
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IN THIS ISSUE

TAX CREDITS AND CORONAVIRUS

A number of changes have been made to the tax credits rules in response to coronavirus. These include:

  • treating people as in work if stopped or reduced hours temporarily due to coronavirus, (including if the claimant or a member of household is shielding) and for a further period of up to 8 weeks if return to work and intend to resume sufficient hours;
  • clarifying that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and other government support for self-employed due to coronavirus counts as trading income for self-employed claimants;
  • payments instead of free school meals are disregarded as income;
  • allowing key workers more time to report changes of circumstances.

Please see AskCPAG for more detailed information on these changes and how tax credits may be affected by coronavirus.

See the Tax Credits (Coronavirus, Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations in full.

BEST START GRANT: LATE APPLICATIONS

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 includes a change to the rules to allow late applications for certain Scottish benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic. Usually, an application for a Best Start Grant must be made within strict time limits, but if the decision-maker is satisfied that the reason for it being late is related to coronavirus, then it can be accepted. It is still necessary to have met the qualifying conditions within the original time period, as follows:

  • pregnancy and baby payment: entitled to a qualifying benefit (or aged under 18 or 18/19 dependant) within six months of the birth (or twelve months if taken on responsibility for the baby, e.g. as a kinship carer) but an application can be made more than 6 months (or 12 months) after the birth if the reason for the late application is related to coronavirus.
  • early learning payment: entitled to a qualifying benefit for (or aged under 18 or 18/19 dependant) and responsible for a child aged from 2 to 3½, but an application can now be made more than six months after the child’s third birthday if the reason for the late application is related to coronavirus.
  • school age payment: entitled to a qualifying benefit for (or aged under 18 or 18/19 dependant) and responsible for a child born from 1 March 2014 to 28 February 2015. The application window for this cohort closed on 29 February 2020. This was before lockdown, but if someone met the conditions and was affected by coronavirus on 29 February 2020 (e.g. in hospital), an application could now be accepted.

Similarly, if challenging a decision, a late redetermination or appeal (which must usually be requested within 31 days) can also be accepted for a reason related to the coronavirus.

See Social Security Scotland for more information.

Best Start applications can be made online at mygov.scot

See our Scottish Benefits resource for more information on Best Start Grant.

BEST START GRANT SCHOOL AGE PAYMENT OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS

The application window for the next cohort of school age payments opens on 1 June 2020. This is for children born from 1 March 2015 to 29 February 2016, who are eligible to start school in August. The school age payment is payable even if the child does not start school, for example if the place has been deferred.

Best Start applications can be made online at mygov.scot

See our Scottish Benefits resource for more information on Best Start Grant.

ADVICE LINE SERVICES

Please note we continue to provide free, up-to-date advice and information service, now with additional capacity, to respond to all your phone and email enquiries. We offer expert, independent advice on all aspects of the benefits and tax credits system - what to claim, how to claim and what to do when things go wrong. This includes the very latest Scottish benefits information relating to the coronavirus, as this changes.

Please contact us with any enquiry you have, to help support your clients;

Phone 0141 552 0552
Monday to Thursday 10am - 4pm, Friday 10am - 12 noon
Email advice@cpagscotland.org.uk

ONLINE TRAINING

We are currently developing a programme of online training courses to help advisers stay informed and up-to-date with their learning requirements and will announce all the topic areas and dates on the website soon.