Preparing For Your First Child: What Are You Entitled To?

Pregnancy

Your bump is growing and the due date is fast approaching – it won’t be long until that baby is out of your belly and in your arms. It is an incredibly exciting time but it is also a very expensive time.

However, while having a baby isn’t cheap there is help available both from the government and your employer. So, it is important to know what benefits you are entitled to when you are pregnant.

While pregnant (and for one year after)… you are entitled to free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment. Simply fill out the Maternity Exemption form (FW8) available from your doctor or midwife.

When you have a child…

You can receive Child Benefit – a regular payment from the government to help with the cost of raising your little one. This is available to anyone responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they are in education or training)

So, how much will you get?

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

To claim simply download a form from the government website although be aware, if you or your partner earn more than £50,000 a year, you will have to pay back some or all of your Child Benefit in the form of Income Tax.

If you are on a low income or already receiving benefits, you can claim Child Tax Credit – an annual payment from the government. How much you get will depend on your circumstances, including your income, how many children live with you and whether your child has a disability.

From April 2017, Child Tax Credit support will be limited to the first two children, except in the case of multiple births. You can use the government’s tax credit calculator to see how much you are entitled to and then fill in a claim form.

Healthy food: You can receive weekly vouchers for free milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, instant formula and vitamins. You will get this if you are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four and you receive Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment Support Allowance or Child Tax Credit. If you are under 18 you can receive these vouchers even if you don’t get the other benefits. Speak to your midwife to find out more.

Sure Start Maternity Grant: a one-off payment of £500 from the Social Fund.
You will get this if your new baby is the only child under 16 in your family and you receive certain other benefits.

There are also benefits if you are working, including…

Paid time off for antenatal care: this is in addition to your annual leave and it doesn’t matter how long you have been working for your company. This includes medical and midwife appointments and doctor-recommended appointments such as parenting classes.

Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay: you are entitled to a year’s maternity leave and pay from your employer for up to 39 weeks, if you are eligible. To get the pay you must have been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks and receive average earnings of at least £112 a week. Find out more about SMP here.

Maternity Allowance: this is a fortnightly or monthly payment from the government if you can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay because you haven’t worked for your employer long enough, you are self-employed or you earn less than £112 a week. The amount you receive will be based on how much you do earn. To claim, fill in the Maternity Allowance on the government website.

Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay: this is one or two weeks off work to help look after the new baby. This has the same requirements, for claiming, as maternity leave.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay: this gives 50 weeks of parental leave and 37 weeks pay shared with your partner, if you are eligible. You can find out more about splitting your leave between mother and father here.

If you are adopting, then you are entitled to Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay – which includes a year off work and 39 weeks pay. Only one half of the couple can take this and it does have the same requirements as maternity and paternity leave, for taking it.

Working Tax Credits: this is a payment from the government to top up your earnings if you are on a low income. The childcare element of this can cover up to 70% of your childcare costs, if you are eligible.

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