Financial family aid
Becoming a parent can be an expensive business. However, there are a number of grants and benefits for new parents that you might be able to apply for. From child benefit to food vouchers, we look at ways for UK mothers to get financial aid…
Milk, Formula and Fruit and Vegetable Vouchers (Healthy Start)
If you’re under 18 and pregnant ask your midwife about claiming these. They’re not a particularly high value (currently £3 per child or pregnancy), but it’s something off your weekly shop.
If you are receiving Income Support, Income based Jobseekers’ Allowance or Child Tax Credit for an income of under £15,575 and are pregnant, or have an under 4 year old, you can also claim.
Generally you need to use them in Co-Ops, FarmFoods and some independent shops. You are restricted to what you buy with them to just milk, fruit, vegetables and formula.
£500 Grant ( Sure Start Grant)
This grant you need to be quick about applying for as you can only apply in the last 11 weeks of pregnancy, the first three months post birth, or the first three months post adoption. You should also receive either Income Support, Income based Jobseekers’ or Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit Higher Rate, or Working Tax Credit with a Disability element. Your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP will need to complete part of the form for this.
Tax Credits (Child and Working Tax Credits)
For Child Tax Credits as long as your household income is under £58k a year (and you’re unlikely to be reading this if it is more than that), you will be entitled to Child Tax Credits at some rate. Whether or not you are entitled to Working Tax Credits will depend on how many hours you (or your partner) work, and your total household income.
If you a parent or guardian of a child under 16, and are resident in the UK and not under immigration controls, you should be able to get Child Benefit. You may also be able to get it if you’re temporarily abroad (eight weeks for any reason, up to twelve weeks for family illness/death). For the first child you get £20 a week and £13.20 for any other children.
If you and your child’s other parent are no longer together you are entitled to claim money from them to support your child. You can make an arrangement between yourselves privately (perhaps using a solicitor or the Citizens’ Advice Bureau to help), and if you and your ex are still amicable this is probably the simplest method. However, the CSA can also work out an arrangement based on your income, your ex-partner’s income, the cost to bring up your child and any costs that your ex has in a new relationship. It may be that you decide you don’t want to claim Child Maintenance from your ex, you should be aware though that you might find when claiming benefits that this will be queried, and you may have to be quite explicit about why you don’t want to receive Child Maintenance.
Maternity, Paternity and Adoption ( Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Benefits)
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid by employers to employees who have been employed at least 26 weeks by the time you are 34 weeks pregnant (15 weeks before due date), and are paid over £90 a week. For the first six weeks you get 90% of your weekly wage and for the next 33 weeks the same or £117.18, whichever is lower.
If you’ve not been employed long enough by the same employer, or earn under £90 a week you might be able to apply for Maternity Allowance (MA). You must have earned something for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks prior to your due date, and thirteen of those weeks you should have earned over £30. The 26 weeks don’t need to be altogether, so you could have had a month of work, then a week a few months later etc. If you are Self-Employed you are also entitled to apply for MA.
The rate is £117.18 or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lowest. The benefits advisors encourage you to send in wage slips for the weeks where you got paid the most, so that you will get as much MA as possible.
Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) follows the same criteria as SMP for eligibility. It is the same rate as SMP, but is only for two weeks. These can be taken consecutively or separately. This can be paid to women as well as men so LGBT couples are fully entitled to this.
Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) this works exactly like SMP, though you will provide your employer with a certificate from the adoption agency as proof. Only one partner of a couple can claim SAP, but the second can claim SPP. Both women and men can claim SAP.
More maternity and child benefit links: Know your rights
This lovely picture is the cover of My Mother Wears Combat Boots: A Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us. Which we haven’t read but we bet is brilliant.