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Childcare Grant given then revoked Watch

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    First of all I'd like to say Hello to everybody on forum as its my first post but I must confess the reason I've joined the forum to get some advice on a recent decision by the student loans company.

    We are a two parent, one child family. My partner works full time and I went back to uni in September to study a PGCE. We were told in September that we would receive £2900 in a maintenance grant and a £3600 loan. When we first put our son in nursery in September the nursery manager advised us to apply for a Childcare grant because she was sure that we would probably receive 'something'. We sent off an applicaton and received a confirmation that they would pay us £5700 in childgrant. We felt a huge weight lifted off our shoulders knowing that we would be able to get by without struggling to make ends meet. They paid us £2200 of this grant immediately as well as a £1200 of our maintenance grant.

    We have since spent this money and they have now sent us a letter saying we are not entitled to the childcare grant and that we owe them £500 and we are now not getting paid any of the grant in the next 2 installments! Essentially we are going to be much worse off after Christmas than we would have been without the grant.

    Here are our financial details:

    Incoming:

    Partner earns £24000 gross, £18300 NET (1460 per month)

    Uutgoing:

    Nursery £725pm
    Mortgage £310
    Insurance £35

    ^^ I believe the above are the only accountable - realistically our outgoings are more than our incoming at the moment but this is subsidised by the loan and grant.

    Can anybody in know give me some advice on whether we should be entitled to something. Is it worth appealing this? Least of all I'm going to complain to the student loans company because their error is going to make life extremely difficult for us financially next year.

    Your help is much appreciated.

    Roxanne
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    Have they given a reason for it being revoked, what does it say in the letter?
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    The letter said "We have been notified that your grant entitlement has been reassessed which has resulted in you being overpaid." I though this was very cryptic so I phoned them. The lady who I spoke to on the phone was trying to be helpful but I got the feeling that she didn't really know why it had been revoked. She said that our son is dependant on my partner and not myself so I'm not entitled to the Childcare but I'm pretty sure entitlement results from household income and not who the child is dependant on (is this correct?)

    I'm also amazed that there was no apology in the letter when it was their fault that the overpayment was made in the first place! Do they not realise how much difficulty they can put families in financially by making simple mistakes and dragging their heels. This could have potentially serious consequences for my family - I'm just glad that they didn't pay me the next installment.

    Roxy
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    SLC are notorious for major screw ups like this, their incompetence is second to none, yours is a clear example of this. How come you don't have to pay the full sum back and they are only asking for £500 back? Are they going to subsidise some of it? It seems wholly unfair, but unfortunately this is commonplace with SLC for screw ups like this.
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    I only have to pay £500 back because I was entitled to £2900 maintenance grant in total in the 1st place. The 1st instalments of grants totalled approx £3400 (including childcare and maintenance grant). Effectively I have been paid the full amount of maintenace grant in one instalment plus £500 (which I now owe back). They will not be paying anymore maintenance grant in the next two instalments which will leave us down by about £250 per month.
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    Oh dear. Have you tried to speak to someone more senior? The phone agents aren't really much use and usually give out inaccurate and incorrect advice.
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    Yes, I did try. I was simply pointed towards the appeals and complaints email addresses. Apparently nothing can be done before an appeal has been submitted. I just wish to know whether we *should* be entitled to this with our current financial situation. Does anyone know what calculations the SLC use to determine eligibility? Is anyone in the know as to how it works? Its seems even the SLC dont know how they work this out at the moment! I need this information to decide whether its worth appealing or not.

    Cheers,

    Roxy
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    I don't know, the majority of students don't have children and apply for this sort of grant, but there are probably others on here that will be able to advise, so will leave it up to them, all I'll say is it's definately worth appealing if you're going to be out of pocket.

    Best of luck

    TG
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    Do use the email address they gave you - I wasn't happy with the answers I was getting from the phone advisors (they are very "computer says no" about it all if you ask me) so I asked for a person to complain to. I sent an email explaining my situation and got a very apologetic reply within a few days, and within a month my grants etc were sorted - the woman sent me an envelope addressed to her directly so my evidence wouldn't take forever to get processed etc.
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    (Original post by modgepodge)
    Do use the email address they gave you - I wasn't happy with the answers I was getting from the phone advisors (they are very "computer says no" about it all if you ask me) so I asked for a person to complain to. I sent an email explaining my situation and got a very apologetic reply within a few days, and within a month my grants etc were sorted - the woman sent me an envelope addressed to her directly so my evidence wouldn't take forever to get processed etc.
    Try this- and hopefully you will get somewhere ith it all.
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    May be able to help, but not until Monday. Snowed in elsewhere in the country, unable to get to the comp with my docs on.
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    Thanks very much Taiko I look forward to your reply!
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    Just to update this. Got a phone call from SFE today and the lady explained that the reason why we weren't entitled to the childcare grant was due to earnings over the threshold of £16670 (which is the total amount of grants we would in principle be entitled to). My partners net income is 1460 x 12 = £18300. I mentioned that I thought that they would take into account some financial obligations since we pay mortgage, house insurance and council tax. She said this can not be taken into consideration because I'm under 25 and not married - I don't understand this rule. Can anybody explain to me why being under 25 and not married would mean I don't have the same financial obligations and somebody who is 25+ and married?
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    Apologies, I'll look into this more tomorrow hopefully. I've had large amounts of work on, and haven't had chance to sit down and do the calculations.
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    Ok, on looking over the facts, SFE have this completely wrong, and are failing to comply with The Education (Student Support) Regulations 2009. Regulation 42 lists the definition of partner as:

    subject to sub-paragraphs (i), (j), (k), (l) and (m), “partner” means any of the following—.
    (i)the spouse of an eligible student;.
    (ii)the civil partner of an eligible student;.
    (iii)a person ordinarily living with an eligible student as if that person were the student’s spouse where an eligible student falls within paragraph 2(1)(a) of Schedule 4 and began the specified designated course on or after 1st September 2000;.
    (iv)a person ordinarily living with an eligible student as if that person were the student’s civil partner where an eligible student falls within paragraph 2(1)(a) of Schedule 4 and began the specified designated course on or after 1st September 2005;.
    (i)unless otherwise indicated, a person who would otherwise be a partner under sub-paragraph (h) is not to be treated as a partner if—.
    (i)in the opinion of the Secretary of State, that person and the eligible student are separated; or.
    (ii)the person is ordinarily living outside the United Kingdom and is not maintained by the eligible student;.
    They are correct that you are not entitled the the Adult Dependents Grant, but they must take into account the outgoings provided in the calculation of your childcare grant. This is defined in Paragraph 42(3) of the regulations.

    (3) Where an eligible student or the student’s partner makes any recurrent payments which were previously made by the student in pursuance of an obligation incurred before the first academic year of the student’s course, the partner’s net income is the net income calculated in accordance with paragraph (2) reduced by—

    (a)an amount equal to the payments in question for the academic year, if in the opinion of the Secretary of State the obligation had been reasonably incurred; or.
    (b)such lesser amount, if any, as the Secretary of State considers appropriate if, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, a lesser obligation could reasonably have been incurred..
    The regulations make no reference to a minimum age, only that you have care of a child and have a partner that meets the definitions, which you do. No internal guidance at SFE can override the regulations, no matter what they say. SFE have therefore got your assessment wrong in this case, and I would suggest putting this in writing, possibly with the assistance of your university's student services. It's certainly wrong though, and if taken to court SFE would lose everytime over this.
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    Taiko thank you very much for this interesting excerpt from the student finance act. I will use these as a basis for an appeal and reference the false information that was given to me by the lady I spoke to the other day (I hope the conversation was recorded). If our financial obligations are taken into account (3600 mortgage and 400 house insurance) it would take us well below the threshold and we should be at least entitled to something then.

    Many thanks again, I keep the post updated with details of the appeal.

    Roxy
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    Didn't have chance to do a full calculation of any entitlement, as I'm rushed off my feet right now.

    Calls are recorded though. To trace, you'll need to know the rough time of your call, which number you dialled (as there are a few for the SLC/SFE) and the number you called them from. Calls can be traced from there.
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    (Original post by Roxy87)
    Just to update this. Got a phone call from SFE today and the lady explained that the reason why we weren't entitled to the childcare grant was due to earnings over the threshold of £16670 (which is the total amount of grants we would in principle be entitled to). My partners net income is 1460 x 12 = £18300. I mentioned that I thought that they would take into account some financial obligations since we pay mortgage, house insurance and council tax. She said this can not be taken into consideration because I'm under 25 and not married - I don't understand this rule. Can anybody explain to me why being under 25 and not married would mean I don't have the same financial obligations and somebody who is 25+ and married?
    If you are under 25 and unmarried, you are considered dependent on your parents (bloody ridiculous) UNLESS you have a child. That's why they're quoting that I guess, though what Taiko says below implies they've got it wrong anyway. Such a bunch of muppets.
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    Taiko I have found something that seems to point to the fact that I MUST be 25 or over in order:

    (i)“partner” in relation to an eligible student means any of the following—.
    (i)the spouse of an eligible student;.
    (ii)the civil partner of an eligible student;.
    (iii)a person ordinarily living with an eligible student as if the person were the student’s spouse where an eligible student falls within paragraph 2(1)(a) and the student begins the specified designated course on or after 1st September 2000;.
    (iv)a person ordinarily living with an eligible student as if that person were the student’s civil partner where an eligible student falls within paragraph 2(1)(a) and the student begins the specified designated course on or after 1st September 2005;.

    The sentence in bold appears to be the one relevant to us BUT it references "where an eligible student falls within paragraph 2(1)(a)" and paragraph 2(1)(a) says:

    2.—(1) An independent eligible student is an eligible student where—

    (a)the student is aged 25 or over on the first day of the relevant year;.

    It is 2(1)(j) that makes me an independant student since I'm only 23:

    (j)as at the first day of the relevant year, the student has the care of a person under the age of 18

    How can my partner not be classed as a partner for determining eligibility for the grant yet his earnings where taken into account for my SFE application - its madness! Surely there is some sort of discrimination going on here?

    Please don't tell me this is going to be the stumbling block for the appeal - have I missed something?

    Roxy
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    inb4 im so academic pipes up with some conservative 'how dare you have a child so young!?' nonsense


    :cool:
 
 
 
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