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

There’s 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:

  • Been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks
  • Average earnings of at least £112 per week.

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 2016-17 tax year:

Statutory Maternity Leave Statutory Maternity Pay
The first six weeks 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax
The next 33 weeks £139.58 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 that 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 £112 per week.

How much is Maternity Allowance?
The amount you get is based on how much you earn.

Depending on your earnings, in the 2016-17 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 Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay?
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 Statutory Paternity Pay?
You get Statutory Paternity Pay for one or two weeks of your paternity leave.

In the 2016-17 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 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 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 2016-17 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 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 £112 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 2016-17 tax year:

Statutory Adoption Leave Statutory Adoption Pay
The first six weeks 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax
The next 33 weeks £139.58 or 90% of your average weekly earnings - whichever is less
The next 13 weeks (if taken) 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

Working Tax Credit

What is Working Tax Credit?
A payment from the government to help top up your earnings if you work and are on a low income.

The ‘childcare element’ can cover up to 70% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible.

Who gets it?
You normally need to be aged 25 or over

You might also be able to claim if you’re over 16 and have a child or a disability.

You might be able to claim the childcare element of Working Tax credit if you:

  • Work at least 16 hours a week
  • Pay for childcare.

How much is Working Tax Credit?
How much you get depends on your circumstances, including:

  • Your income
  • How many hours you work
  • Whether you have a disability
  • Whether you have children
  • Whether you pay for childcare.

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.

Find out more about Working Tax Credit

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

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

What is it?

A benefit that’s paid if you are unable to work because of sickness or disability.

Who gets it?

If you can’t work because of a pregnancy-related illness and you can’t claim Statutory Sick Pay. Employment and Support Allowance can be paid until the 11th week before your baby’s due date (the 29th week of your pregnancy).

After the 29th week, you might be able to claim Income Support if you don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.

Find out more about Employment and Support Allowance on the GOV. UK websiteopens in new window

Income Support

What is it?

If you don’t qualify for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity pay and are unemployed or on a low income, you might be able to claim Income Support while you’re pregnant.

Who gets it?

You can get Income Support while you’re pregnant and can’t work from 11 weeks before the baby’s due date to 15 weeks after its birth.

If you’re a lone parent you can continue to get Income Support up until your child reaches age 5.

To get Income Support you must:

  • Be aged 16 or over
  • Work less than 16 hours a week
  • Have less than £16,000 in savings.
  • Have no income or be on a low income

Your partner or spouse’s income and savings will also count and they must be working less than 24 hours a week.

Income Support is being replaced by Universal Credit. You will be told if you should apply for it when you make your claim.

How much is Income Support?

the amount of Income Support you’ll get depends on your circumstances but you will get at least £57.90 a week.

When the baby is born you will also be able to claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit.

Find out more about Income Support on the GOV.UK website

Sure Start Maternity Grant

What is the Sure Start Maternity Grant?
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 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

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 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 aboutHealthy 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 that you are 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 2016-17 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 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.

But it could still be worth applying to help protect your state pension.

Child Tax Credit

What is Child Tax Credit?
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 Child Tax Credit?
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

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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