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Check you're getting all your entitlements

Benefits you are entitled to when having a baby

Most families are entitled to cash from the government.

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There’s lots of help available when you’re pregnant or have a baby, including benefits and grants from the government and your employer.

Benefits for all pregnant women

Free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment

What is it?

  • You’re entitled to free NHS dental care in the UK while you’re pregnant and for a year after the baby is born.
  • In England, you’re entitled to free prescriptions while you’re pregnant and for a year after the baby is born.
  • In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, you’re entitled to free prescriptions at all times.

Who gets it?

Women who are pregnant or who gave birth less than a year ago.

How to claim

Fill out the Maternity Exemption form (FW8), available from your doctor or midwife.

Find out more about free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment

Benefits if you have a child

Child Benefit

What is it?

A regular payment from the government to help with the cost of raising a child.

Who gets it?

Anyone responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they’re in education or training).

How much is it?

In the 2015-16 tax year, Child Benefit payments are:

  • £20.70 per week for the eldest or only child
  • £13.70 per week for each additional child

How to claim

Download a claim form (CH2) from GOV.UK

If either of you earn over £50,000 a year

If either you or your partner have an income of more than £50,000 a year, you’ll have to pay back some or all of your Child Benefit in the form of extra Income Tax.

Find out more about Child Benefit
Find out more about Child Benefit if you earn £50,000+

Benefits if you’re on a low income or claiming benefits

Child Tax Credit

What is it?

An annual payment from the government to help with the cost of raising a child.

Who gets it?

Anyone responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they’re in education or training).

How much is it?

How much you get depends on your circumstances, including:

  • your income
  • how many children live with you
  • whether your child has a disability

Use GOV.UK’s tax credits calculator to see how much you could get.

How to claim

Call the Tax credit helpline (0345 300 3900) for a claim form.

Changes to Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit

From April 2017 Child Tax Credit support will be limited to the first two children (except in the case of multiple births).

If you’re already claiming Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit and have more than two children, you won’t be affected by the changes.

Find out more about Child Tax Credit

Healthy Start food vouchers

What is it?

Weekly vouchers for free:

  • milk
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • infant formula
  • vitamins

Who gets it?

You’ll get the vouchers if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four and you and your family get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit

If you’re under 18 and pregnant you can also get Healthy Start vouchers, even if you don’t get any of the above benefits.

How much is it?

  • Pregnant women and children aged one to four get £3.10 per week
  • Children under one get £6.20 per week

How to claim

Speak to your midwife, health visitor or doctor, or call Healthy Start on 0845 607 6823.

If you’re claiming Universal Credit and you’re pregnant or have a child under four years old, call Healthy Start on 0345 607 6823 or email onhelpdesk@tiu.org.uk to find out more about the Healthy Start scheme.

Find out more about Healthy Start food vouchers

Sure Start Maternity Grant

What is it?

A one-off payment from the Social Fund to help with the cost of your baby.

Who gets it?

You’ll get the grant if your new baby is the only child under 16 in your family and you or your partner get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit at a higher rate than the family element
  • Working Tax Credit which includes a disability or sever disability element

There are more rules if you’re adopting or becoming a surrogate parent.

How much is it?

£500

How to claim?

Fill in the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SF100) claim form

If you live in Northern Ireland you can download a claim pack from nidirect.

Find out more about Sure Start Maternity Grant on GOV.UK

Benefits if you’re working

Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay

What is it?

When you have a baby, you’re entitled to a year’s Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer for up to 39 weeks while you’re on leave, if you’re eligible.

Who gets it?

Employed pregnant women.

To get Statutory Maternity Pay you must have:

  • been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks
  • average earnings of at least £112 per week

How much is it?

You get Statutory Maternity Pay for 39 weeks of your 52 week maternity leave.

The table below shows how much Statutory Maternity Pay is in the 2015-16 tax year:

 

Statutory Maternity Leave

Statutory Maternity Pay

First six weeks

90% of your average weekly earnings before tax

The next 33 weeks

£139.58 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less)

The next 13 weeks

Unpaid

How to claim

To get maternity leave, you need to tell your employer when you want to stop working by the 15th week before the baby’s due date.

You need to give your employer at least 28 days’ notice that you want to start Statutory Maternity Pay, and give them proof that you’re pregnant.

Find out more about Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay

Maternity Allowance

What is it?

Fortnightly or monthly payment from the government if you can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay.

Who gets it?

Pregnant women and new mums who can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay because:

  • you haven’t worked for your employer for long enough
  • you’re self-employed
  • your average pay is less than £112 per week

How much is it?

The amount you get is based on how much you earn.

Depending on your earnings, in the 2015-16 tax year you could get either:

  • £139.58 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks
  • £27 per week for up to 14 weeks

How to claim

Fill in the Maternity Allowance (MA1) claim form or call Jobcentre Plus (0800 055 6688) or Jobs and Benefits Office in Northern Ireland (0289 033 6000) for a form.

Find out more about Maternity Allowance

Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay

What is it?

One or two weeks’ paid time off work so that you can help look after your new baby.

Who gets it?

You must be:

  • the child’s biological father or adopter
  • the mother’s partner
  • the intended parent (if you’re having a baby through surrogacy)

You must also:

  • have worked for your employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due
  • be employed by your employer until the baby is born
  • earn at least £112 per week

There are different rules if you adopt.

How much is it?

You get Statutory Paternity Pat for one or two weeks of your paternity leave.

In the 2015-16 tax year you’ll get £139.58 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

How to claim

Give your employer Form SC3 at least 15 weeks before the week the baby is due.

There are different rules if you adopt.

Find out more about Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

What is it?

Up to 50 weeks’ parental leave and 37 weeks’ pay shared with your partner if you’re eligible.

Who gets it?

If your baby is due after April 2015 and you live in England, Wales or Scotland, you may be eligible.

The child’s mother must end her maternity leave and maternity pay or Maternity Allowance before either parent can get Shared Parental Leave or Pay.

You can get Statutory Shared Parental Pay if you’re employed and you’re eligible for either:

  • Statutory Maternity Pay or Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay and your partner is eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay

How much is it?

In the 2015-16 tax year you’ll get £139.58 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

How to claim

You must give notice to your employer in writing if you want Statutory Shared Parental Leave and Pay.

GOV.UK has downloadable forms you can use to give notice.

Find out more about Statutory Shared Parental Pay on GOV.UK

Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay

What is it?

When you adopt or have a child through surrogacy, you’re entitled to a year off work and up to 39 weeks’ Statutory Adoption Pay.

Who gets it?

Only one person in a couple can take adoption leave and pay. The other person could be eligible for paternity leave and pay.

You must be an employee and have been:

  • working for your employer for 26 weeks by the time you’re matched with a child or by the 15th week before the baby is due
  • earning an average of at least £112 per week

How much is it?

You get Statutory Adoption Pay for up to 39 weeks of your Statutory Adoption Leave.

The table below shows how much Statutory Adoption Pay is in the 2015-16 tax year:

Statutory Adoption Leave

Statutory Adoption Pay

First six weeks

90% of your average weekly earnings before tax

The next 33 weeks

£139.58 per week or 90% of your earnings (whichever is less)

The next 13 weeks

Unpaid

How to claim

Tell your employer that you want to take adoption leave and when you want it to start.

You should tell them within seven days of being told by the adoption agency that you’ve been matched with a child.

If you use a surrogate to have a baby, tell your employer the due date and when you want to start your leave at least 15 weeks before the baby is due.

Find out more about Statutory Adoption Pay

Benefits if you’re studying

Care to Learn

What is it?

Weekly payments to help with the costs of childcare if you’re studying.

Who gets it?

You may be able to get Care to Learn payments if:

  • you’re a parent under 20
  • you live in England
  • you’re studying a publicly-funded course (your school, college or learning provider can tell you if your course is eligible)
  • you’re the main carer for your child
  • you’re a British citizen or a national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country
  • your childcare provider is registered with Ofsted

How much is it?

With Care to Learn you can get up to:

  • £160 per child per week if you live outside London
  • £175 per child per week if you live in London

The payments go directly to your childcare provider.

How to claim

Apply online with the Education Funding Agency or call them on 0800 121 8989.

Find out more about Care to Learn on GOV.UK

Childcare Grant

What is it?

Weekly payments to help with the costs of childcare if you’re in full-time higher education.

Who gets it?

To get a Childcare Grant you must:

  • be a full-time student
  • have a child under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs
  • have (or be eligible for) a student finance package
  • live in England permanently
  • have a childcare provider who is registered with Ofsted

You can’t get a Childcare Grant if you or your partner are:

  • claiming the childcare element of Working Tax Credit
  • claiming the childcare element of Universal Credit
  • receiving help with childcare costs from the NHS

How much is it?

The amount you get depends on:

  • your household income
  • the cost of your childcare
  • the number of dependent children you have

You can get a grant to cover up to 85% of your childcare costs.

In the 2015-16 academic year the most you can get is:

  • up to £155.24 per week for one child
  • up to £266.15 per week for two or more children

How to apply

Follow GOV.UK’s steps on how to apply for a Childcare Grant.

Find out more about Childcare Grant on GOV.UK

Parents’ Learning Allowance

Did you know?

You don’t need to be paying for childcare in order to qualify for the Parents’ Learning Allowance.

What is it?

Payments to help with learning costs if you’re studying and have a child.

Who gets it?

You could get a Parents’ Learning Allowance if you’re:

  • a student from England with dependent children
  • studying a full-time undergraduate course or an Initial Teacher Training course

How much is it?

The amount you get depends on your household income.

In the 2015-16 academic year, you could get up to £1,573.

How to apply

You can apply for Parents’ Learning Allowance when you apply for student finance.

Find out more about Parents’ Learning Allowance on GOV.UK

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.