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.   

Family Financial Mediation

Ashford Advice are now able to offer family mediation. This is a process in which an independent, professionally trained mediator helps you work out arrangements for children and finances following separation, it is not marriage guidance.

You may be concerned about the cost of legal fees. If you’re talking to your ex about your issues, and working together to reach agreement through mediation, there is much less need for a solicitor’s time. This means that legal fees can be kept as low as possible.

You can make an appointment for a fixed fee Mediation and Assessment Meeting with our FMC trained mediator by calling 01233 626185

Cost of Living

In the first four months of the year, Ashford Advice helped a record number of people with food bank referrals and access to emergency charitable grants. There is a huge increase on the same period in 2020, and has been contributed to by the support needed by a record number of people in work. 

We are able to help Ashford residents with free, independent advice about debt and debt solutions

New Housing Register

A new housing system and website is being rolled out across Kent to create a more user-friendly service for people on the housing register.

The system, which will be run by provider Huume, will go live in July 2023 and have a new look, be more streamlined and easier to navigate, while still providing the same service.

Once launched, applicants will continue to log into their accounts and be able to view and bid on properties in the Ashford borough as and when they become available, the same as they do now.

To move from the current system to the new one, it means that any new applications to the housing register are suspended for a month while outstanding ones are completed and data moved over.

This will happen from 1 June 2023, and Ashford Borough Council suggests applicants wanting to apply to the register put in new applications well before this date. The register resumes on 1 July.

The process for people who find themselves unexpectedly homeless or requiring housing options advice during that month will still be in place.

Kent Homechoice is a partnership of 13 local authorities, 28 housing associations and Kent County Council, which was set up to provide a way to apply for affordable and social housing.

If clients approach Ashford’s housing register team and are considered to be vulnerable and in a high housing need, it will be possible for their applications to be added manually to the Huume system during the period that the housing register is suspended.

For more information please visit

Pre-Payment Meter tariffs to change

Prepayment meter customers typically pay more for their energy than those paying by direct debit. But the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt says from 1 July the “prepayment penalty” will end, cutting bills for over four million households.

The change is expected to come into effect from 1 July through updates to the Energy Price Guarantee, with the full announcement on the reform to come in the Chancellor’s budget today

Social Housing Complaints – Make Things Right

Social housing should be safe, secure and well maintained. If you have an issue with your landlord, it’s now easier to make things right.

The Charter says every resident should expect to: ​

  • Be safe in their home​
  • Know how their landlord is performing​
  • Have their complaints dealt with promptly and fairly​
  • Be treated with respect​, backed by a strong consumer regulator for tenants
  • Have their voice heard by their landlord​
  • Have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in​
  • Be supported to take their first step to ownership

Watchvideo – Video from YouTube

The government is already taking action to achieve the aims sets out in the Charter for Social Housing Residents. This includes:

  1. Allowing for residents to take complaints directly to the Housing Ombudsman Service without delay – by removing the need to go to your MP, local councillor or tenants’ panel first and to wait 8 weeks after completing your landlord’s process
  2. Making smoke alarms mandatory in all social homes, and carbon monoxide alarms mandatory in all social homes with a gas supply
  3. Launching the Social Housing Quality Resident panel to bring together residents from across England to share their views with the government on our approach to driving up the quality of housing
  4. Publishing new tenant satisfaction measures from the regulator to make landlord performance more visible to tenants so they can hold their landlord to account
  5. Publishing an anti-social behaviour information package to clarify the roles of the agencies responsible for tackling anti-social behaviour and the help and support available for tenants
  6. New powers introduced in the Social Housing Regulation Bill for the Housing Ombudsman to identify best practice in case handling, including publishing a new Complaint Handling Code with which social housing landlords are expected to comply and this will be monitored.
  7. The Housing Ombudsman can also now publish guidance on good practice and order social landlords to complete a self-assessment against this guidance when a complaint is received.
  8. In August 2022, we announced that the Department will highlight poor practice by landlords including on its social media platforms. We will publish `Severe Maladministration’ findings by the Housing Ombudsman and judgements of the Regulator of Social Housing that consumer standards have been breached.