Up to 300 parents and carers of children are set to benefit from an expanded bursary scheme designed by Islington Council to help them back into work or training, as part of its efforts to create a more equal and accessible local economy that works for everyone.
This financial year the council has quadrupled the bursary funding to £160,000 and revised the eligibility criteria, so even more parents and carers of young people can pay for childcare for up to eight weeks when they start work, a work placement or short-term training.
Childcare fees can top £1,000 per month and for many parents and carers of children, this is a significant barrier to them returning to work, starting education or training, or finding a job for the first time after having children.
There are currently more than 4,000 parents in Islington who are out of work and claiming benefits. The majority are single parents, and a considerable number are claiming Income Support, which requires them to look for work when their youngest child turns five.
Cllr Santiago Bell-Bradford, Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs, said: “Helping parents and carers with those first steps, so they can afford to access training and employment, is a vital part of giving them the power to pull themselves and their families out of poverty.
“Currently, around two-thirds of the children growing up in poverty in Islington live in households where no-one is employed – so it’s essential we find ways to tackle the barriers to work and training.
“In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, childcare costs make it really difficult for many people to make ends meet while working or training, particularly those who are likely to take up entry-level jobs or zero-hours contracts. Our Enhanced Childcare Bursary Scheme provides genuine help for hundreds of households, and will make Islington a more equal place.”
More people than ever before will also be eligible to apply for a bursary under the new scheme, including parents in low-paid roles who want to undertake training to boost their chances of getting better-paid jobs, and those wanting to move from part-time to full-time work. It will also be available to entrepreneur parents or carers who are establishing their business.
The scheme is part of the council’s ongoing efforts to help people into training and rewarding employment. Since 2018, it has helped more than 1,300 parents with children aged under 18 into paid work.
For more information on the Enhanced Childcare Bursary Scheme, see www.islington.gov.uk/ChildcareBursary
Funding for the Enhanced Childcare Bursary Scheme is four times greater than the previous scheme (£40,000).
Last year the previous scheme helped 130 residents with childcare costs. This year it expects to help up to 300.
Last year’s bursary paid for the first four weeks of childcare costs, but the new scheme doubles this to the first eight weeks. This is to give parents more time to build up enough savings to meet the first payment they are required to make themselves in order to claim back childcare costs through Universal Credit (the Proof of Payment rule).
The Enhanced Childcare Bursary Scheme is one of several ways the council is helping people to find rewarding work and training opportunities, and supporting families with childcare.
Its iWork service matches skills to local opportunities and helps people work out which benefits and financial support they are entitled to, including childcare.
The council’s Family Information Service provides information and support for parents looking for childcare, including advice on help with costs, free early learning services, Universal Credit and support for students.
And the council’s Income Maximisation Team offers helps people to ensure they are receiving all the support they are entitled to, including benefits and tax credits.
In addition, the council supports working and studying families with the costs of childcare by subsidising a range of children’s centres and some other nurseries. This enables them to charge families on a sliding scale depending on household income. After-school and holiday childcare is also subsidised at some primary schools and voluntary sector providers.
For more information, see the following pages:
Islington’s Family Information Service: www.islington.gov.uk/fis
Islington’s iWork service: call 020 7527 2706 or email [email protected]
Islington’s Income Maximisation team: email [email protected]