What benefits can I claim when I'm pregnant or have a baby?

There are lots of benefits and entitlements available when you’re pregnant or have a baby, including maternity benefits, the Sure Start Maternity Grant, as well as benefits you can claim if you’re pregnant and unemployed or on a low income.

What benefits can I claim when I’m pregnant?

Free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment

What is it?

  • 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?

All 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

What benefits can I claim if I’m working and having a baby?

What is it?

No matter how long you’ve been in your job, you have a right to paid time off from work to go to your antenatal appointments.

This time off is in addition to your annual leave.

Antenatal care includes:

  • medical and midwife appointments
  • doctor-recommended appointments like relaxation or parenting classes.

Your time off should include travel time to and from each appointment.

The baby’s father or your partner (this includes same-sex partners) are entitled to take unpaid time off work to go with you to two of your antenatal appointments (with the maximum time capped at 6 hours and 30 minutes for each appointment).

Who gets it?

Employed pregnant women.

How to claim

Tell your employer when your antenatal appointments are happening. Try to give them as much notice as you can to help with work planning.

It might be a good idea to go during quiet times at work or outside working hours if you can.

Find out more about paid time off for antenatal care in England, Wales and Scotland on GOV.UK and in Northern Ireland on NI Direct

Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay

What is Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay?

When you have a baby, you’re entitled to a year’s maternity leave and 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:

  • average earnings of at least £118 per week, and
  • been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks.

How much is Statutory Maternity Pay?

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 2019/20 tax year:

Statutory Maternity Leave Statutory Maternity Pay
The first six weeks 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax
The next 33 weeks £148.68 or 90% of your average weekly earnings - whichever is less
The next 13 weeks (if taken) 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 you’re pregnant.

Find out more about Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay

Maternity Allowance

What is Maternity Allowance?

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 £118 per week.

How much is Maternity Allowance?

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

Depending on your earnings, in the 2019/20 tax year you could get either:

  • £148.68 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 Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay?

One or two weeks’ paid time off work so 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 £118 per week.

How much is Statutory Paternity Pay?

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

In the 2019/20 tax year you’ll get £148.68 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.

Find out more about Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

What is Shared Parental Leave and Pay?

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

Who gets it?

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, you might 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 Statutory Shared Parental Pay?

In the 2018-19 tax year, you’ll get £145.18 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.

Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay

What is Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay?

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 £118 per week.

How much is Statutory Adoption Pay?

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 2019/20 tax year:

Statutory Adoption Leave Statutory Adoption Pay
The first six weeks 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax
The next 33 weeks £148.68 or 90% of your average weekly earnings - whichever is less
The next 13 weeks (if taken) Unpaid

How to claim

Tell your employer 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 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

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is a payment from the government to help top up your earnings if you work and are on a low income. It is being replaced by Universal Credit.

Most people now have to make a claim for Universal Credit instead of Working Tax Credit.

If you’re already claiming Working Tax Credit and are having a baby, this might qualify as a change in circumstances. You will have to inform HMRC of this change and might be asked to make a new claim for Universal Credit.

Find out more about claiming Universal Credit here.

What benefits can I claim if I’m not working or on a low income?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is being replaced by Universal Credit and most people may have to claim Universal Credit instead of this benefit.

However, if you’ve made enough National Insurance Contributions, you might qualify for new style Employment and Support Allowance. If you need extra support with other costs, such as your rent or bringing up children, you may be able to claim Universal Credit alongside new-style ESA.

Income Support

Most people now have to make a new claim for Universal Credit instead of Income Support.

If you don’t qualify for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay and are unemployed or on a low income and can’t look for work you might be able to claim Universal Credit while you’re pregnant.

If you have three or more children you might be able to claim Income Support for the time being.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

What is the Sure Start Maternity Grant?

A one-off £500 payment from the Social Fund to help with the cost of your baby. If you live in Scotland, this has been replaced with the Best Start Grant (see below).

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:

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

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

How much is the Sure Start Maternity Grant?

£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.

Healthy Start food vouchers and Baby Payment (Scotland only)

Best Start Grants will provide lower-income families with financial support during the key early years of a child’s life

It is replacing and expanding on the UK Government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant.

Who gets it?

If you’re aged under 18, or aged 18 or 19 and someone else if claiming child benefit, child tax credit or universal credit for you, you’ll be eligible for Best Start Grant regardless of income.

Otherwise, you’ll be eligible for Pregnancy and Baby Payment if you or your partner get any of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

How much is the Best Start Grant?

The Pregnancy and Baby Payment element will not become part of the Best Start Grant until the summer of 2019. It will be £600 for a first baby and £300 for a new baby if you have older children living with you. There will be an extra £300 for any subsequent children. This is a major difference to the Sure Start Grant as this isn’t limited to a set number of children.

The Early Learning Payment will be £250 per child.

The School Age Payment will be £250 per child.

How to claim?

You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment from 10 December 2018.

You apply to Social Security Scotlandopens in new window and the money will go directly into your chosen bank account. You can also apply by calling social security Scotland on 0800 182 2222. There will also be a paper form you will be able to fill in. If you are expecting a baby now, or had a baby since 10 June 2018, and have not yet applied for a Sure Start Maternity Grant, it may be worth waiting to apply for a Best Start Grant instead, as it is worth £100 more.

Either way, you should make sure you apply for one of them within six months of the baby’s birth. You cannot get both grants for the same baby.

Healthy Start food vouchers

What are Healthy Start food vouchers?

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 your family’s income is £16,190 or less and you’re not getting Working Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit if you are receiving Working Tax Credit run-on. A run-on might be paid to you in the four weeks after you have stopped working enough hours to qualify for Working Tax Credit.
  • Universal Credit if your household is earning £408 or less a month.
  • Working Tax Credit run-on. This is the payment you receive for four weeks after you have stopped working for 16 hours or more per week (single adults).

You also qualify for Healthy Start Food Vouchers if you’re not getting one of these benefits yourself but you live with your partner and they get the benefit.

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 are Healthy Start food vouchers?

  • 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 0345 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.

What benefits can I claim when I’ve had a baby?

Child Benefit

What is Child Benefit?

Child Benefit is a regular payment of money from the government to help with the cost of raising a child.

Only one person can claim Child Benefit and you can claim for every child you’re responsible for.

Who gets it?

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

How much is Child Benefit?

The rates for the 2019/20 tax year 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 earns over £50,000 a year

If either you or your partner has 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. But it could still be worth applying to help protect your state pension.

Find out more about Child Benefit.

Child Tax Credit

Important

If you have three or more children, you will not be asked to claim Universal Credit and can make a new claim for Child Tax Credit.

If you have one or two children, you now have to claim Universal Credit instead of Child Tax Credit. You can claim for children until they reach 19 (or 20 in some cases) if they are in full time approved education or training, but not at university.

If you have three or more children you will not be asked to claim Universal Credit and can still make a new claim for Child Tax Credit.

If your children were born before 6 April 2017, you will be able to claim for them all.

If one or more of your children were born on or after 6 April 2017, you will only be able to claim for the first two unless you had a multiple birth or adopted.

Most people now have to claim Universal Credit instead of Child Tax Credit.

Find out more about claiming Universal Credit here.

What benefits can I claim if I’m studying?

If you’re at school, college or university and have a child, you could qualify for financial help to cover everything from living expenses and learning costs, to travel and childcare.

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