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Month: July 2016

Benefits for Young Parents

Benefits for Young Parents

If you are based in the UK and are planning on having a child, you may want to consider some of the government benefits available, such as; Child Tax Credits, Social Fund Payments, Child Benefits. e.t.c.

For many people, the idea of having a baby is a terrifying prospect – there is so much to do, so much to prepare, and you never feel like you’re truly ready. That is made so much worse by the possibility of not having enough money to keep your child clothed, fed and healthy – but that’s where the benefits system comes in.

There are dozens of types of benefits payment available to new parents to help ease the weight of having a baby and to help them cope with the seemingly endless financial stresses they face. These include benefits for women who are pregnant or have given birth, benefits for their partners, available benefits for people who adopt children, and tax credits and financial aid for people responsible for children or raising young people. These include:

Maternity Benefits

Benefits for pregnant women or new mothers include statutory maternity pay for employed women, and a “maternity allowance” for self-employed women or women who have been employed until recently. The maternity allowance is also available for women who have not been employed or self-employed, but who have in the past worked for their self-employed partner.

Maternity allowance is a maximum of £139.90 per week, or 90% of your wage, whichever is less. This doesn’t seem like much, but it will really take the strain out of the extra expenses incurred by maternity. Maternity allowance is available for up to 39 weeks and can be applied for at your local benefits office or job centre.

Paternity Benefits

Paternity benefits include statutory paternity pay, which is available for two weeks to partners of expecting women or partners of new mothers, including same-sex partners. You may also take paternity pay for two weeks of paternity leave if you are adopting a child.

If you are on statutory paternity leave but are not entitled to paternity pay from your employer (for example because you haven’t worked there for a long enough time) you may be entitled to income support from your local benefits office. This is especially true if you are receiving housing benefit, council tax benefit or any form of tax credits while working as existing financial aid. If you are receiving paternity pay from you employer, but it is not enough to live on, or it is preventing you from receiving crucial benefits, you should discuss your situation with an expert advisor at your nearest citizen’s advice bureau (CAB) which can be found online.

Maternity grants – help with the one-off costs of having a baby

If you get benefits or tax credits due to being on a low income, you may be entitled to a maternity grant to help deal with the one-off costs of having a baby. The grant doesn’t have to be repaid and there is no restriction on what you spend the money on – it’s simply a one-off £500 payment made to you to help you deal with the costs of having a baby.

The maternity grant is only available if the baby is the only child under 16 in the household, and only if you are the one responsible for the child. Different rules apply if you are seeking a grant as the parent of twins or multiple babies.

Vehicle Tax

Vehicle Tax

Any vehicle driving on the road or parked on the roadside in the UK is required by law to pay road tax, which should be paid through the DVLA.

Until 2014, the DVLA issued road tax disks which had to be renewed every time the tax ran out – however, this has been phased out as technology made it obsolete. Now, police use automatic numberplate readers to match cars to tax databases and make sure the driver has paid their road tax. The vehicle tax still needs to paid through the DVLA – and here’s how.

How to renew vehicle tax

Renewing your vehicle tax is as easy as anything – you will be sent an automatic reminder letter to let you know that your tax is up for renewal, and the letter will have instructions for going online and renewing your tax included on it.

You’ll need to go to to renew your tax, but everything else will be on the letter.

In the event that you don’t have your V11 reminder letter, you can use your VC5 vehicle registration certificate (which you can replace easily if you’ve lost it) or the same information will be available on the final warning letter you will be sent shortly before you are fined – however, you may not wish to leave it that late to renew your tax!

Potential penalties for driving without vehicle tax


Every vehicle registered in the UK has its details held in a database by the DVLA, and database checks are made every month to make sure the records are up to date for every entry. Among several other metrics, this database informs the DVLA which vehicles are currently covered by road tax and which ones aren’t – any car flagged by the system as untaxed and without a SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification) will result in the registered owner of that car being sent an automatic fine of £80 along with an automated letter.

If paid within 28 days, the fine can be settled for half the cost, only setting you back £40 in total. However, if you fail to settle the fine at all or refuse to pay it, you are liable to face prosecution, and could wind up being slapped with a fine of up to £1000. Even going to court at that point will also mean you have to pay court costs.


DVLA are also well within their rights to clamp a vehicle that is on the road with no tax. Should this happen to you, the only way to get the clamp off is to either 1) pay for valid tax within 24 hours or 2) pay a release fee of £100. Once that is done, you’ll have to pay a surety deposit as a way of guaranteeing that you’ll pay for tax in the agreed-upon time, which is usually £160 for cars and motorbikes but jumps up to £700 for certain other vehicles. The payment window is 2 weeks, which should be more than adequate since payment is made online.

If the tax is purchased within 2 weeks, the deposit is refunded. If tax is not paid for in this time, the money is lost and the vehicle could be clamped again or even impounded.


If your car is impounded for having no tax, you will have to pay a minimum of £200 to release it, and will also have to pay £21 per day to the impounders for the privilege of having your car locked up there. To make matters even worse, you may also have to pay prosecution costs, court costs and legal fees.

Can I drive without tax?

There are a few – very few – occasions when it is ok to drive without tax. I fyou are driving to a pre-booked MOT test, you can drive untaxed for that journey. You may also be exempt if you are disabled or if you are driving a certain type of vehicle. For mor einformation on what kind of vehicles are exempt from paying tax, call the DVLA or visit their website.


Contacting the DVLA About a Medical Condition

Contacting the DVLA About a Medical Condition

There are several common medical conditions which might affect your ability to drive, and if you begin to suffer from them it’s very important to contact the DVLA telephone number and let them know. The DVLA has teams of employees who work with drivers affected by various medical conditions to keep them safe and help make sure their condition doesn’t put them or other drivers at risk, so they’ll know what to do and will be able to help you work with your condition as much as possible.

We’ve published this handy guide to help talk you through the process of  informing the DVLA about a medical condition, what they’ll do, and where to go from there.

Informing the DVLA of a medical condition, injury or disability

You are required by law to tell the DVLA if you currently hold a driving licence and you develop a “notable” medical condition or disability; or if an existing disability or condition has worsened since you got your licence.

A “notable condition,” as we called it above, is any condition that may change your ability to drive. A few quick examples would be:

  • a stroke, no matter how minor
  • epilepsy in any form
  • any neurological or mental health condition that might affect coordination, concentration or awareness
  • physical disabilities
  • any visual impairments or long-term damage to your eyes

In England, Scotland or Wales, you should contact the DVLA for these issues – but if you’re in Northern Ireland, you should instead contact the DVA (the Driver and Vehicle Agency), which is the official government agency for drivers in Northern Ireland.

Contacting the DVLA about a medical condition

Contacting the DVLA about a medical condition is easy to do – just click here for the list of forms and questionnaires available, and find the one that applies to you. You’ll need to post it to them, but the address you need is on the forms, so it’s just a matter of writing it out and posting it!

Each condition or disability has its own form, so the DVLA employees working with you can process your case quickly and effectively. If you’re unsure of what to do, contact the DVLA on their phone line to speak to an advisor who will be able to help you through every step of the process!

Potential consequences of not informing the DVLA

If you choose not to tell the DVLA about a medical condition or disability that might impact your ability to drive, you could be fined up to £1000 – and if you are involved in an accident, you could face prosecution for failing to register the condition.

What to do if you have to surrender your licence

If your doctor tells you that you can no longer drive due to a medical condition or disability, you are legally required to surrender your licence. The same holds true if you realise that you no longer meet the required standards for driving safely – for example in the case of gradual visual impairment or if you realise you can no longer focus intently enough to work safely on the road.

If you choose to surrender your licence voluntarily, it will be much easier to get it back once you are again safe to drive.

Informing the DVLA of a medical condition or disability when applying for a licence

When you first apply for your driving licence, you will have to option to inform the DVLA about a notable condition as part of the application. Again, if you have a notable condition, you are legally required to tell them here. Similarly, you’ll be asked again when renewing your licence for the first time over the age of 70, as notable conditions become much more common in the population at this point. You won’t need to go to the trouble of contacting the DVLA just for this – the forms will be included with your application.

After you tell the DVLA

After informing the DVLA of a notable condition, you will receive news of their decision within 6 weeks. The DVLA may contact your doctor for more information, arrange for a medical examination or ask you to take another driving assessment, eye test or additional driving test to make sure you are fit and safe to drive before reaching a decision.

Their decision may include any of the following options:

  • you may need a completely new driving licence
  • your licence may be valid for a shorter time, whether 1 year, 2 years, 3 or 5, and at the end of that period you will need to pass a review test to make sure you are still fit to drive
  • you may need to adapt your car to work with your condition by fitting custom controls
  • you may need to surrender your licence completely if you are no longer safe to drive

If your licence is revoked, you will be told how to appeal against the decision.