Class 3 National Insurance credits if you’ve provided care for a child under 12 from 6 April 2011.

Thousands of grandparents caring for their grandchildren over the summer holidays could be missing out on the chance to boost their future State Pension.

Many working-age grandmothers and fathers could qualify for Class 3 National Insurance credits for looking after children aged under 12 – which can be used to top up their income in retirement.

Many grandparents are working hard all year round looking after their grandchildren, and it is important that they do not damage their own state pension rights as a result. Such grandparents are contributing to society just as much as someone in a paid job and should therefore be entitled to the same protection for their state pension as if they were in work.

The new system of transferable National Insurance credits means that grandparents need no longer lose out on building up a full state pension just because they are caring for a grandchild.

Applications for NI credits for caring for children under 12 need to be made to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and must be signed by both the adult carer and the Child Benefit recipient. Applications need to be made in the October following the end of the tax year in which the caring took place.

Grandparents who have cared for their grandchildren during the tax year 2011/12 are able to apply for their credits now.

The credit is a Class 3 National Insurance credit and protects entitlement to basic State Pension and bereavement benefits for spouses and civil partners.

There is no minimum requirement for the number of hours of care in a week as long as the credit is transferred for a full week. For details of who can apply and how, visit or phone the National Insurance Helpline on 0845 302 1479.

National Living Wage 

The National Living Wage threshold will be £11.44 per hour, starting on or after 1 April 2024

The age to receive the National Living Wage will be lowered to include 21-year-olds.

The rate for those aged 18 – 20 will be £8.60;

The rate for those over school age but not yet 18 will be £6.40; the apprentice rate will be £6.40. 

When? For pay reference periods starting on or after 1 April 2024

Child Benefit (changes from April)

You get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for bringing up a child who is:

Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child.

There’s no limit to how many children you can claim for.

There are 2 Child Benefit rates.

Who the allowance is forRate (weekly)
Eldest or only child£24.00
Additional children£15.90 per child

From April 2024, the lower income threshold to be eligible for child benefit will rise to £60,000(previously £50,000). The rate at which Child Benefit is withdrawn will be 1% for every £200(previously £100) above this level. It is fully withdrawn when individuals earn £80,000 (previously £60,000) or more.

Energy Price Cap

Between 1 April to 30 June 2024 the energy price cap is set at £1,690 per year for a typical household who use electricity and gas and pay by Direct Debit. This is £238 lower than the cap set between 1 January to 31 March 2024 (£1,928).

Electricity and gas unit prices and standing charges, 1 January to 30 June 2024

 Energy price cap per unit and standing charge1 January to 31 March 2024Energy price cap per unit and standing charge1 April to 30 June 2024 
Electricity28.62 pence per kWh53.35 pence daily standing charge24.50 pence per kWh60.10 pence daily standing charge
Gas7.42 pence per kWh29.60 pence daily standing charge6.04 pence per kWh 31.43 pence daily standing charge

Debt Relief Orders (DRO)

The Government is introducing the following changes to DROs in England and Wales (with Scotland and Northern Ireland to receive equivalent Barnett Consequential funding): 

  • From 6 April, the £90 administration fee will be permanently removed.
  • From 28 June, the maximum amount of debt that an individual entering a DRO can hold will be increased from £30,000 to £50,000. In addition, the value of single motor vehicle that can be disregarded from the total value of assets an individual seeking a DRO is permitted to own, will also be increased from £2,000 to £4,000.

Ashford Advice are registered intermediaries for debt relief orders. Subject to meeting the eligibility criteria you will be offered face to face advice, and we will submit your application without any fees

Tax Free Childcare

Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) is a government scheme to help working families with their childcare costs.

Parents and carers who are eligible can open online childcare accounts to pay their registered childcare providers directly and the government will add to the account to help towards childcare costs and save money.

For every £8 a parent or carer pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Families can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs, or £4,000 for a child with a disability.

Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) is for working families, including the self-employed, in the UK:

  • each parent/carer earning under £100k and at least £152 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage)
  • who aren’t receiving Tax Credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers
  • with children aged 0 to 11 years (or 0 to 16 if disabled).

Your child will be eligible for TFC until the September following their 11th birthday, or 17th birthday if they are disabled.

Apply for Tax Free Childcare

Tax Credits are ending

Tax credits are coming to an end, and most people will need to apply for Universal Credit instead.

Look out for a letter called a Universal Credit Migration Notice from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) explaining what you’ll need to do, and by when.

If you are claiming tax credits and are of State Pension Age DWP will write to you to ask you to apply for Universal Credit or Pension Credit, depending on your circumstances.

You won’t be moved automatically, so it’s important to act quickly and follow the instructions in the letter, otherwise your benefits will stop.

If you receive a Migration Notice, meaning you need to go through the managed migration process, and you end up being entitled to less under Universal Credit than your current legacy benefits, you could be entitled to a temporary top-up payment so that you do not lose out. This is called a ‘transitional protection element’.

To continue to receive financial support, you will need to claim Universal Credit by the deadline stated in your Migration Notice letter, even if you have just renewed your tax credits claim. There may be some additional benefit to waiting until after 8 April 2024 to start your Universal Credit claim, this is because, around this date, most benefit rates will be increased by 6.7%.

To find out more about the support Ashford Advice can provide to help you switchover. Call 012233 626185

Food Banks/Free Lunches

The following venues are open in Ashford providing food banks and other services, please check each listing for services offered.

Ashford Advice Seabrooke House, Church Road, Ashford

Food Bank vouchers for FareShare outlets in Ashford from 9.30am to 11am Monday to Friday (Details of outlets and opening times are on the voucher)

Vinnies Diner, Bright City Church, Bank Street, Ashford.

Free hot lunch, pudding, tea or coffee and food bank available.  The lunch is for anyone, whether rich or poor! from 11.30 – 1.30 pm on Mondays

Open Arms, Ashford Community Church, 54 Francis Road, Ashford

Free hot meal for homeless and vulnerable people. Tuesday from 10 am – 1 pm. Food bank also available

Salvation Army, 115 Cudworth Road, South Willesborough, Ashford TN24 0BE

Food Bank 10am – 12pm on a Friday

Community Fridge – Peoples Pantry Repton Connect Community Centre


If you are in need of food or hygiene items, check out our website for the list of free items we have in stock


Call or email us and request the items you need


We’ll arrange a time slot for you to come and collect them from Repton Connect Community Centre.

We’ll leave the items outside the door for you.


If you need something, you’re welcome to request it.We haven’t forgotten people who aren’t able to leave their house. Just contact us and we’ll try to help.

If you would like to request items, or make a donation, please call 01233 808023 or email:

Energy Price Cap

Ofgem will confirm the price cap on the unit costs of gas and electricity from 1 April to 30 June 2024 on Friday 23 February.

Cornwall Insight has published its final energy price cap prediction for the next quarter, with an expected reduction of £293 from the current price cap level of £1,928 to £1,635. The forecasted reduction is subject to additional costs yet to be confirmed by Ofgem

From 1 January 2024 the price for energy a typical household who use gas and electricity and pay by Direct Debit went up by £94. This took the price cap from £1,834 to £1,928 per year.

From 1 January 2024, for a typical user paying by direct debit, the unit rate is 29p/kWh for electricity and 7p/kWh for gas. The average daily standing charge will be 53 p/day for electricity and 30 p/day for gas.

Ofgem has robust rules in place to help people in vulnerable situations, and suppliers are obliged to offer payment plans and direct customers to available support. 

The price cap is a cap on a unit of gas and electricity, with standing charges taken into account. It is not a cap on customers’ overall energy bills, which will still rise or fall in line with their energy consumption.